Zimmerman to Press on With NBC Defamation Case

Monday, 15 Jul 2013 11:27 AM

By Melanie Batley

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With his acquittal in hand, George Zimmerman plans to resume his defamation lawsuit against NBC News for its coverage of the call he made to police the night he came face-to-face with 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

The neighborhood watch volunteer contends the network's March 27, 2012 "Today" broadcast painted him as a racist by editing out significant portions of the discussion he had with police, The Washington Post reports.

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NBC's abridged version of the conversation stated that Zimmerman told police, "This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black."

The full tape of the call went like this:
Zimmerman: 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.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.

Zimmerman started the lawsuit against NBC in December, but the case was put on hold pending the outcome of his trial. 

Last year NBC News' then-President Steve Capus called the edit "a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call," and said disciplinary action had been taken against the people involved.

James Beasley, a Philadelphia-based attorney representing Zimmerman in the case, told the Washington Post, "We're going to start in earnest asap."

Asked whether the innocent verdict in favor of his client would affect the NBC case, Beasley said, "This verdict of not guilty is just that, and shows that at least this jury didn't believe that George was a racist, profiling, or anything that the press accused George of being.

"That probably doesn't get you that much but it's simply time for us to start the case and hold accountable anyone who is irresponsible in their journalism," he added.

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