George Zimmerman is suing the family of Trayvon Martin, the teenager he shot nearly eight years ago, seeking more than $100 million from Martin’s parents, their attorney and others. Zimmerman claims he was the victim of a conspiracy, along with malicious prosecution and defamation, according to NPR and other media reports.
The suit has excited wide comment in the media, where some commentators argue that it also has offered an opportunity to revisit one of the early cases that put issues of guns, racism and private policing in the spotlight.
Zimmerman was acquitted of charges related to his shooting of Martin, who was 17 and unarmed when Zimmerman killed him in a gated Florida community where Martin’s father lived. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self-defense during a scuffle.
Zimmerman and his lawyer, Larry Klayman, allege that Rachel Jeantel, a key witness for the prosecution who testified about being on the phone with Martin just before the shooting, was an impostor. They accuse her of standing in for another teenager, Jeantel’s half sister, who did not want to testify in the case.
Zimmerman and Klayman allege defamation by Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, who called the suit “another failed attempt to defend the indefensible and a shameless attempt to profit off the lives and grief of others.”
Crump added, “This tale defies logic, and it’s time to close the door on these baseless imaginings.”
Filed in Polk County, where Zimmerman now lives, the 36-page lawsuit takes aim at Crump’s recently published book, “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People.” The suit claims its publication by HarperCollins perpetuates continued defamation of Zimmerman.
The complaint also names several former prosecutors, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state of Florida as defendants. It additionally claims there was a conspiracy involving a fake witness that led to Zimmerman’s arrest and prosecution.
Larry Klayman, Zimmerman’s attorney and a well-known conservative activist lawyer, said his client regularly faces death threats, gave up career aspirations, struggles to find work and suffers from PTSD in the fallout from the incident.
Klayman is the founder of Judicial Watch. His other clients include the conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.