George Zimmerman, the Florida man charged with killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, has sued NBCUniversal Media LLC and three of its current and former reporters for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, claiming they edited audio and misreported the content of his 911 call in an attempt to paint him as "a racist and predatory villain."
A clerk in the Circuit Court of the 18th Judicial Circuit in and for Seminole County, Fla., confirmed to The Legal on Thursday that the suit had been filed and provided the docket number "2012CA006178."
Zimmerman is currently awaiting trial, having pled not guilty to second-degree murder in the February 26 shooting of Martin.
A copy of the complaint posted by Zimmerman's attorneys on the website GZvNBC.com names NBCUniversal Media, current reporter Ron Allen and former reporters Lilia Rodriguez Luciano and Jeff Burnside as defendants.
Zimmerman alleges in the complaint that the airing of the edited call along with misrepresentations that he used a "racial epithet" during the call have misled the public to believe he told the dispatcher he suspected Martin was engaged in criminal activity because he was black.
"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," Zimmerman alleges in the complaint. "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 as it appears on the website, NBC allegedly aired two separate "doctored" portions of the 911 call on consecutive days.
On March 19, according to the complaint, NBC and Burnside aired manipulated audio of the 911 call in which Zimmerman could be heard telling the dispatcher, "'There is a real suspicious guy. Ah, this guy looks like he is up to no good or he is on drugs or something. He looks black.'"
On March 20, the complaint alleges, NBC and Luciano aired a different version of the edited call in which Zimmerman could be heard saying, "'This guy looks like he's up to no good or on drugs or something. He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male.'"
On March 22, according to the complaint, NBC and Luciano aired another edited version of the call in which Zimmerman could be heard telling the dispatcher, "'He looks like he's up to no good. He looks black.'"