Judge Debra Nelson has ruled in favor of NBC in a defamation lawsuit filed by George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman filed the lawsuit in December 2012, saying NBC aired an edited version of the call he made to 911 right before his confrontation with 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The actual 911 call, made the night of Feb. 26, 2012, went as follows:
George Zimmerman: 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 a version of the audio aired by NBC trimmed that dialogue to just Zimmerman saying:
This guy looks like he's up to no good … He looks black.
The network ended up firing three producers.
In a hearing Thursday, June 19, attorneys for NBC argued the First Amendment protects their reporting, because the reports aired about a month after the shooting, and by that time, Zimmerman was already a "public figure."
During that hearing, Nelson ruled Zimmerman could not continue to pursue damages against a reporter formerly with an NBC Miami station, because that reporter was not legally notified of the suit ahead of time. Zimmerman sued NBC before his criminal trial last year, accusing the network of airing several reports he says were edited to portray Zimmerman as racist.
None of the three attorneys representing NBC Universal commented after the hearing.
In her court documents, the judge wrote the court deemed Zimmerman a "public figure" and that "actual malice" had to be proven.