George Zimmerman Lawsuit Tossed OutBy: Mike Tuttle - July 1, 2014
George Zimmerman, the man who pursued and fatally shot Trayvon Martin, has been trying to get a payday from NBC. Zimmerman sued NBC for the way the network edited the text of his 911 call the night he encountered Travon Martin.
Zimmerman alleged that NBC’s selective editing of the call made him look like a racist in the eyes of the nation, and thus he accused them of defamation of character.
But a judge has dismissed Zimmerman’s lawsuit, saying that Zimmerman could not prove that NBC’s actions were with any “malicious intent”.
The standard of “malicious intent” is a necessary hurdle in order to make a defamation of character accusation stick.
The lawsuit revolved around the portion of Zimmerman’s 911 call on that fateful night where, according to NBC’s original transcription and editing, Zimmerman was heard to say:
“This guy looks like he’s up to no good … He looks black.”
His words caused a public uproar, and the impression of him that he was a racist took root. But, upon more complete examination, the 911 call actually went like this:
Zimmerman: We’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy. It’s Retreat View Circle. The best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. 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.
911 dispatcher: OK, is he White, Black, or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
Seeing the entire exchange puts the statement in a very different light. And Zimmerman may indeed have a point that it defamed his character in that sense. But being able to prove that NBC acted with malicious intent is another thing altogether. This is particularly difficult since NBC issued a retraction and apology about the incident, saying:
A March 21 story about the Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Fla., initially truncated a transcription of George Zimmerman’s conversation with a police dispatcher. The truncated quote made it seem that Zimmerman, acting as a neighborhood watch, brought up the race of the Miami teenager he was following in his neighborhood. Martin was later shot during a confrontation with Zimmerman. During the conversation, the police dispatcher asked Zimmerman specifically about the teen’s race and he answered.
The TODAY show broadcast truncated a portion of George Zimmerman’s conversation with a police dispatcher, and that truncated interview appeared on TODAY.com and msnbc.com. The video was removed from the site on March 30, as NBC News launched an internal investigation. On April 3, NBC News issued this statement: “During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret. We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers.”
Zimmerman owes his attorneys $2.5 Million in fees for his criminal trial. Any damages he would have collected from the NBC lawsuit would have helped cover his outstanding bill.
Even without collecting money, perhaps Zimmerman hopes that the truth about his words that night will be seen by more people.
Image via YouTube