George Zimmerman,accused of second-degree murder in the shooting of Trayvon Martin earlier this year, filed suit against NBCUniversal on Thursday, alleging that news reports that edited his voice on a 911 tape constituted defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The edits of the 911 recording, which removed a contextual question posed by the 911 operator asking what race Mr. Martin was, aired three times on NBC’s “Today” show. It was first aired on March 20, then again on March 22, and finally on March 27.
In the first report, Zimmerman’s words to the 911 operator were: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. He looks black.” But in fact, he had told the operator: “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 said, “O.K., and this guy; is he white, black or Hispanic?” Zimmerman replied that “He looks black.”
Zimmerman alleges that journalists at NBC News intentionally edited these 911 statements to make him appear to be a “racist, predatory villain.”
When the omissions were noticed afterwards, NBC conducted an investigation and concluded that the edits were mistakes, and not a deliberate alteration of the statements made by Zimmerman.
The suit, filed in Seminole County Circuit Court, Florida, asked for a jury trial.