SEMINOLE COUNTY, FL (RNN) - George Zimmerman, the man charged with the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, has filed a lawsuit against NBC Universal, claiming the network portrayed him as "a racist and a predatory villain" in the wake of the shooting.
The suit, filed in Seminole County, FL, claims "NBC saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings" and, in their coverage, created a "false and defamatory misimpression" of Zimmerman.
In a news report, NBC edited Zimmerman's 911 call to make it sound like he said to a dispatcher, "This guy [Martin] looks like he's up to no good. He looks black."
The actual exchange with a 911 operator went as follows:
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: OK, this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
The suit cites four other instances where the call was allegedly doctored and aired and accuses the network of "manipulating Zimmerman's own words, splicing together disparate parts of the recording to create the illusion of statements that Zimmerman never actually made."
NBC fired three people and issued an apology after an internal investigation into the edit, saying "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."
The suit names two terminated employees, plus a reporter still employed at NBC.
In response to the suit, a spokesperson for NBC told the Associated Press, "There was no intent to portray Mr. Zimmerman unfairly. We intend to vigorously defend our position in court."
The suit doesn't specify damages sought.
Zimmerman faces second degree murder charges in the death of 17-year-old Martin.
In February, Zimmerman called police to report a suspicious person - Martin, who was unarmed - walking through his gated Florida neighborhood.
The two reportedly got into a scuffle, and Zimmerman shot him at close range.
Martin supporters say he, as a black teenager, was the victim of racial profiling by an overzealous neighborhood watch captain.
Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, claims he was acting in self defense, citing Florida's Stand Your Ground law which allows someone to use deadly force if they feel their life is in danger.
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