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George Zimmerman, the man charged with murder in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, on Thursday sued NBCOover its coverage of the Sanford shooting.
The complaint alleges that NBC News used "yellow journalism" when it edited a phone call Zimmerman made to police moments before he shot the South Florida teen on Feb. 26.
"Defendants pounced on the Zimmerman/Martin matter because they knew this tragedy could be, with proper sensationalizing and manipulation, a racial powderkeg that would result in months, if not years, of topics for their failing news programs," the lawsuit states.
The company issued a statement saying it never intended to portray Zimmerman unfairly and would defend itself in court.
The suit, filed in Seminole County by attorneys Mark O'Mara of Orlando and James Beasley of Philadelphia, accuses NBC of igniting "media arson" in March when it spliced a portion of the call between Zimmerman and a dispatcher "to juxtapose unrelated content to make it appear that Zimmerman was a racist and that he was racially profiling Trayvon Martin."
In the edited audio, Zimmerman tells a dispatcher that Trayvon, who was visiting family in Zimmerman's neighborhood, "looks like he's up to no good. He looks black." In fact, the dispatcher asked whether Trayvon was "white, black or Hispanic" and Zimmerman replied, "He looks black."
The suit contends that NBCUniversal failed to report Zimmerman's Hispanic heritage while emphasizing Trayvon's race. Reports also used misleading photos of both, the complaint alleges.
The story sparked international protests calling for Zimmerman's arrest — in some cases, dead or alive.
Zimmerman is claiming defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. No dollar amount is mentioned.
The lawsuit also names NBC reporters Ron Allen, Lila Rodriguez Luciano and Jeff Burnside. Luciano and Burnside were fired because of their work on the case, according to the suit.
Representatives of NBCUniversal could not be reached. Previously, they have said the conversation between between Zimmerman and the dispatcher was shortened to save air time.