George Zimmerman, who was charged in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, filed a lawsuit against NBC Universal and three staff members. He stated that the network intentionally doctored the 911 tape to make him look like "a racist and a predatory villain."
The lawsuit was filed in Seminole County, Fla., and states that the network used the tragedy in order to boost ratings.
"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 said.
The suit maintains that in a news report containing Zimmerman's call to 911, the call was altered to make Zimmerman look as if he was profiling Martin when he was talking to the 911 dispatcher.
The NBC news segment contained the following exchange:
"This guy [Martin] looks like he's up to no good. He looks black," said Zimmerman on the tape.
However the actual exchange with a 911 operator was vastly different.
Zimmerman: "This guy looks like he's up to no good, like he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's walking around, looking about."
911 Operator: "Okay, this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?"
Zimmerman: "He looks black."
The suit claims that the NBC deliberately altered the 911 call, which led to the network "manipulating Zimmerman's own words, splicing together disparate parts of the recording to create the illusion of statements that Zimmerman never actually made."
As a result of the network's actions three reporters were fired and the network issued an apology in which they stated that "there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret."
Zimmerman is facing a second degree murder charge in the death of Martin, which took place in February after Zimmerman dialed 911 to report a suspicious person that was walking through his gated community. There are conflicting details as to what transpired, but investigators have stated that the two got into physical confrontation and Martin was shot by Zimmerman.
Martin supporters claim he was a victim of racial profiling, while Zimmerman contains that he was acting in self-defense by using Florida's Stand Your Ground law, allowing deadly force to be used if a person deems their life to be in danger.