ONTD Political

George Zimmerman sues NBC Universal over edited 911 call

9:57 am - 12/07/2012
(CNN) -- George Zimmerman, charged in the shooting death of a 17-year-old Florida boy, is suing NBC Universal for using "the oldest form of yellow journalism" by editing an audio tape of his 911 call to make him sound racist, the lawsuit says.

Zimmerman is seeking "damages in excess of the jurisdictional limit" in Seminole County Circuit Court in Florida, where the lawsuit was filed Thursday.

A photo posted online Monday, December 3, shows George Zimmerman with blood on his nose and lips. His attorneys say it was taken the night unarmed teen Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida.

Zimmerman, who is Hispanic and is charged with second-degree murder, is accused of fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, who was African-American. The February incident has provoked national controversy.

Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense. Attorneys for Martin's family say the teen was shot and killed "in cold blood."

"NBC 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 lawsuit says.

"Because of NBC's deceptive and exploitative manipulations, the public wrongly believes that Zimmerman 'use(d) a racial epithet' while describing Martin during the call to the dispatcher on that fateful night," the suit says.

NBC Universal disputed the accusations Friday.

"There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman unfairly," the company said in a prepared statement. "We intend to vigorously defend our position in court."

The defamation lawsuit accuses the network of sensationalizing and manipulating a potential "racial powder keg that would result in months, if not years, of topics for their failing news program, particularly the plummeting ratings for their ailing Today Show."

The edited recordings included multiple deletions, removed intervening dialogue between Zimmerman and the dispatcher, and juxtaposed unrelated content "to make it appear that Zimmerman was a racist, and that he was racially profiling Trayvon Martin," the lawsuit says.

NBC aired various edited versions of the 911 call on March 19, 20, 22 and 27, the suit says.

The suit accuses the network of malice, highlighting correspondent Ron Allen's segment on "The Today Show" on March 27.

"Allen's broadcast removed a critical aspect of the dialogue between Zimmerman and the dispatcher, bringing the 'up to no good' and 'he looks black' statements even closer together, to further the false and defamatory implication that Zimmerman had said he believed Martin was 'up to no good' because 'he looks black,'" the suit says.

The lawsuit accuses NBC of falsely claiming that Zimmerman said "f------ coons" on the February 26 call.

"The truth, as known to the defendants, was that Zimmerman said 'f------ punks' and there was no evidence, or reason to believe, that Zimmerman uttered a racial epithet during the call," the suit says.

Zimmerman mentioned Martin's race only when prompted by the dispatcher, the suit says.

NBC never aired an "earnest" retraction and never apologized to Zimmerman, who has since experienced death threats, a bounty on his head and a genuine fear for his life, the suit says. He now lives in hiding, court documents say.

NBC News President Steve Capus "made a bogus non-apology that claimed the doctoring was merely a 'mistake,'" the suit says.

Because of the death threats, Zimmerman wears a bulletproof vest and was even dismissed from his college because it felt fellow students could be endangered, the lawsuit says. At the time of the incident with Martin, Zimmerman was living in a community known as The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida, court papers say.

"Due to the defendants' journalistic crimes, Zimmerman has been transformed into one of the most hated men in America," the suit says.

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, told "In Session's" Jean Casarez that NBC tried "to get ahead of the curve coverage thinking that they had themselves a person who was a racist, and they were wrong."

The suit also names as defendants Lilia Rodriguez Luciano of Dade County, Florida, who was reporting directly from Sanford. Her employment was terminated by NBC as a result of her reporting, the suit says.

Also named as a defendant is Jeffrey Burnside of Dade County, another journalist who was reporting from Sanford to his station, NBC-owned WTVJ in Miami, the suit says. Burnside was also fired by NBC, the suit said.

By Michael Martinez, CNN. updated 9:55 AM EST, Fri December 7, 2012

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kitanabychoice 7th-Dec-2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
I still give zero fucks and have zero sympathy for this guy. You have death threats and a fear for your life after killing a 17 year old kid who you pursued and confronted? I guess you should've considered the consequences of your actions.
lamardeuse 7th-Dec-2012 05:26 pm (UTC)
"Due to the defendants' journalistic crimes, Zimmerman has been transformed into one of the most hated men in America," the suit says.

Uh, no. Pretty sure he did that himself by STALKING AND MURDERING AN INNOCENT CHILD IN COLD BLOOD.
tamingheadfauna 7th-Dec-2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
shortsweetcynic 7th-Dec-2012 05:38 pm (UTC)
who has since experienced death threats, a bounty on his head and a genuine fear for his life, the suit says. He now lives in hiding, court documents say.

good. he's a loathsome piece of shit, a complete waste of atoms and i have no sympathy for him whatsoever. absolutely none.
danger0usbeans 7th-Dec-2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you're the most hated man in America because of NBC. Sure. Nothing to do with hunting and murdering an innocent young man in cold blood. It's all NBC's fault.

You know, I listened to the recording of that 911 call over and over again. I realize some experts have said that he said "punks", but I can't hear it. I hear "coons" every single time. I can't even figure out how anyone could think it even sounds like "punks".
sio 7th-Dec-2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
some of the defenders i've run across claim he's saying "goons". uh no, you turn it up and listen really closely...there's a difference between the hard-C and the G sound.
callmetothejedi 7th-Dec-2012 05:46 pm (UTC)
I have no sympathy for this man.
angelofdeath275 7th-Dec-2012 05:47 pm (UTC)
omg rot in jail already
evilgmbethy 8th-Dec-2012 03:30 pm (UTC)

I want him to fade into obscurity in the slammer
jenny_jenkins 7th-Dec-2012 06:06 pm (UTC)
"I chased a kid who was holding some Skittles with a gun and all I got out of it was this broken nose."

Rot in hell, asshole.

Edited at 2012-12-07 06:06 pm (UTC)
doverz 7th-Dec-2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
Boo hoo Zimmerman. You're a racist POS who murdered someone in cold blood.
celtic_thistle 7th-Dec-2012 06:17 pm (UTC)
...but he is a fucking racist, as well as a murderer.
sio 7th-Dec-2012 06:27 pm (UTC)
my response to people defending him is "so what if NBC edited the tape for time purposes? the UNEDITED version is all over youtube--and listen for yourself because the .4 seconds they took out of it doesn't change the fact that he committed MURDER and disobeyed a police dispatcher's orders, hello."
rhysande 7th-Dec-2012 07:47 pm (UTC)
Don't really care if Martin gave Zimmerman that bloody nose. It changes nothing. Pretty sure if some man was chasing me and I felt I couldn't get away from him I would eventually get to the point I'd feel my best chance for survival was to try to defend myself, too. Zimmerman was a predator hunting prey when he went after Martin.
lantean_breeze 7th-Dec-2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
Personally, I think he's just trying to cover his mounting attorney's fees. So now, he's not only responsible for murdering an innocent child, but now he's trying to squeeze money out of a news network to pay for his defense. Despicable!
moonbladem 7th-Dec-2012 11:57 pm (UTC)
Frankly, that thought did cross my mind.
hey_kayla_jay 7th-Dec-2012 09:18 pm (UTC)
"Zimmerman, who is Hispanic...."
I see what they're trying to do there.
angelofdeath275 8th-Dec-2012 03:57 am (UTC)
Right? So transparent
crossfire 7th-Dec-2012 10:13 pm (UTC)
What's the matter, Zims, you spend all that donation money already?
myrrhmade 7th-Dec-2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
Oh fuck him.
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