New York Post says lawsuit is imminent; Zimmerman's reps won't go that far
(Updates with comment from Zimmerman's attorney, who says a lawsuit is under consideration. The New York Post reported Thursday that it was imminent.)
Trayvon Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman, is "considering" suing NBC News over a misleading edit of Zimmerman's call to 911 before the shooting, his counsel said in a statement to TheWrap.
The New York Post reported Thursday that Zimmerman's attorneys are "about to file a complaint" against NBC, but Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, told TheWrap on Thursday that the lawsuit was only a possibility.
"NBC intentionally edited George Zimmerman’s non-emergency call to make it appear he is a racist, then they repeatedly broadcast that edited tape to the nation. What NBC did is outrageous," O'Mara said. "Due in large part to NBC’s actions, George has had to live in hiding, in fear for his life. Yes, we are considering a lawsuit against NBC for defamation, and we have collaborated with outside counsel to advise Mr. Zimmerman."
NBC News declined to comment.
The edit made it appear that Zimmerman volunteered that Martin (pictured) was black. In fact, he provided the Florida teenager's race only when asked by the dispatcher. The distinction is important because Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, has been accused of killing Martin in part because of his race. The shooting has continued a long, intense national debate over racial profiling.
Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense. He is charged with second-degree murder.
NBC News President Steve Capus said in April that the edit was unfortunate, but not deliberately misleading. He told Reuters that it was "a mistake and not a deliberate act to misrepresent the phone call."
Still, NBC fired a producer over the edit, and its Miami affiliate fired a reporter.
The call aired on NBC's "Today" show March 27.
“This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black,” Zimmerman said in the edited segment.
However, a crucial exchange between Zimmerman and the 911 dispatcher was excised.
"This guy looks like he’s up to no good," Zimmerman told the dispatcher in the full version of the tape. "Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about."
"OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?" the dispatcher asked.
Zimmerman replied, "He looks black."