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Florida judge dismisses defamation suit brought by George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman suit dismissed: Florida judge rules he's a public figure, so 'malice' standard applies

 

A Florida judge has ruled in favor of NBC Universal and has thrown out a defamation suit brought by George Zimmerman, acquitted of second-degree murder in the death of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin.

In a ruling released on Monday, Judge Debra Nelson said that Zimmerman had failed to show that the news network acted with malice. Judge Nelson said that the malice standard was appropriate because Zimmerman was a public figure.

The ruling was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

In a celebrated case at the intersection of guns and race, Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013 of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Martin, 17. The teen who was returning from a convenience store, was shot to death by Zimmerman in February 2012 in Sanford, Fla.

Zimmerman maintained he acted in self-defense. Judge Nelson presided over the trial.

Zimmerman had accused NBC of falsely portraying him as a racist in how the network edited a 911 call the night of the shooting. Zimmerman maintained the editing made it appear that he had volunteered that Martin was black instead of merely answering a dispatcher's question.

On the 911 call, Zimmerman says: "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.

911 dispatcher: "OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?"

Zimmerman: "He looks black.”

But in the edited version, Zimmerman says: “This guy looks like he's up to no good … He looks black.”

The network fired three producers over the incident.

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