George Zimmerman, acquitted of killing unarmed black teen Trayvon Martin in 2012, is now suing Martin’s family and others for more than $100 million.
The former neighborhood watch volunteer said he was defending himself when he shot the 17-year-old, who was visiting his father in the gated community where Zimmerman lived in Sanford, Fla.
The suit — which will be filed in Polk County Wednesday, his attorneys told the South Florida Sun Sentinel — alleges that the only reason Zimmerman was tried was due to the testimony of a “fake witness.”
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder but was acquitted on July 13, 2013.
He’s suing on the grounds that the so-called fake witness had been coached to testify that she was Martin’s girlfriend and that they had been on the phone just before he was shot. Neither of these things were the case, the lawsuit alleges, according to the Sun Sentinel.
Also named in the lawsuit are Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who represented the Martin family, for his memoir on the case, “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People,” published in October by HarperCollins Publishers, who Zimmerman is also suing. He’s accusing them of defamation.
“I have every confidence that this unfounded and reckless lawsuit will be revealed for what it is — another failed attempt to defend the indefensible and a shameless attempt to profit off the lives and grief of others,” Crump said in a statement. “This plaintiff continues to display a callous disregard for everyone but himself, revictimizing individuals whose lives were shattered by his own misguided actions. He would have us believe that he is the innocent victim of a deep conspiracy, despite the complete lack of any credible evidence to support his outlandish claims.”
Zimmerman’s attorney Larry Klayman, a former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor and the founder of the conservative activist group Judicial Watch, said the case against his client hinged on testimony from “fake witness” Diamond Eugene.
On Feb. 26, 2012, Martin was visiting his father and his dad’s fiancée at the Retreat at Twin Lakes development. He was returning to the development from a 7-Eleven after buying some Skittles and AriZona Watermelon Fruit Juice Cocktail. Zimmerman called cops and reported Martin as suspicious.
Zimmerman said he began following Martin, and the police dispatcher said, “OK, we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman, however, continued to pursue the teen.
The two got into a physical confrontation, and Zimmerman shot Martin. The teen was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic.
In March 2012, the complaint alleges, the Sanford Police Department cleared Zimmerman of wrongdoing in Martin’s death, ruling it self-defense.
“A week later, Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump produced a recorded audio tape of ‘Diamond Eugene’ whom he said was Trayvon’s 16-year-old girlfriend who was on the phone with Trayvon just before the altercation,” Klayman alleges. “However, two weeks later, 18-year-old Rachel Jeantel, the alleged imposter, appeared before prosecutors claiming to be ‘Diamond Eugene’ and provided false statements to incriminate Zimmerman based on coaching from others.”
Klayman cites “newly discovered evidence” in a recently published book and documentary by Joel Gilbert, “The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America.” Both put forth the theory that Jeantel was not his girlfriend and had not been speaking on the phone with him.
“The research also allegedly reveals that Trayvon’s real girlfriend and legitimate phone witness was in fact Miami resident Brittany Diamond Eugene, who was switched out for Jeantel when Eugene refused to bear false witness against Zimmerman,” Klayman alleges.
Crump responded, “This tale defies all logic, and it’s time to close the door on these baseless imaginings.”