Media & Communications Law

George Zimmerman Files Defamation Suit Against NBC over Edited 911 Call

The man accused in the death of Trayvon Martin claims in a lawsuit filed on Thursday that NBC Universal defamed him and caused emotional distress by editing his taped 911 call to make him appear racist.

The complaint filed in Florida on behalf of George Zimmerman alleges NBC was chasing higher ratings when it edited the call and falsely claimed he had used a “racial epithet,” report the Legal Intelligencer and CNN.

“NBC News saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so set about to create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain,” the complaint alleges. “Their goal was simple: keep their viewers alarmed, and thus always watching, by menacing them with a reprehensible series of imaginary and exaggerated racist claims.”

According to the complaint, NBC edited the tape to make it appear that Zimmerman described Martin as looking like he is “up to no good” and declaring, without prompting, that he is black. The complaint cites this unedited version:

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” When the dispatcher asks if the man was “black, white or Hispanic,” Zimmerman replies, “‘He looks black.’”

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