Source: Mike Scheider/Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge on Monday dismissed the defamation lawsuit filed by George Zimmerman against NBC and three reporters, saying the former neighborhood watch leader failed to show the network acted with malice.
Judge Debra Nelson said the malice standard was appropriate because Zimmerman became a public figure after he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford in February 2012, generating a national conversation about race and self-defense laws.
Zimmerman was acquitted last year for Martin’s shooting. He said he shot Martin in self-defense when the teenager attacked him. Martin was black. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
Zimmerman “voluntarily injected his views into the public controversy surrounding race relations and public safety in Sanford and pursued a course of conduct that ultimately led to the death of Martin and the specific controversy surrounding it,” said Nelson, who presided over Zimmerman’s criminal trial last summer.