A Sanford, FL judge has tossed out George Zimmerman’s lawsuit against NBC Universal over charges of libel associated with news broadcasts from two years ago that he says were “falsely portraying him as a racist” after he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“Editors shortened audio from a 911 call Zimmerman made to a police dispatcher the night of the shooting, making it sound as if Zimmerman volunteered that Trayvon was black and that he racially profiled the Miami Gardens teenager,” writes the Orlando Sentinel. The clips aired four times in 2012.
The judge rules that Zimmerman isn’t entitled to any money from the media giant, effectively closing the case unless an appeals court reopens it. According to Judge Debra S. Nelson, Zimmerman is a public figure and couldn’t prove that the network knew what they were reporting was false. Nor could they have reasonably been expected to have any “misgivings” about the reports. In other words, NBC wasn’t found to be reckless in its reporting. Moreover, in the recording, Zimmerman points out Trayvon’s race a second time without any reason to, an important point to the judge.
“The edits, the judge wrote, were not material changes,” write the Sentinel.
NBC has already fired two staffers over the news report and issued an apology over the matter. The network released a single sentence in response to the judge’s decision, stating simply that they are “gratified by the court’s dismissal of this lawsuit, which we have always believed to be without merit.”