It has been awhile since George Zimmerman has been in the news but once again he has made headlines. In 2012 he was acquitted of wrongdoing after shooting Trayvon Martin in an incident that infuriated the black community. Now Zimmerman is suing Trayvon Martin’s family and publisher for defamation after profiting from the shooting.
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted of homicide charges in the 2012 fatal shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, is suing Martin’s family, prosecutors and others involved in the case he claims rested on false evidence, according to a copy of the suit sent to the media Wednesday.
Zimmerman is represented by Larry Klayman, a high-profile legal crusader tied to conservative causes and the founder of Judicial Watch before splitting with the activist group.
The suit in Polk County Circuit Court cites information in a documentary about the case that accuses the Martin family of engineering false testimony, and the director has scheduled a press conference this week in Coral Gables to coincide with a film screening there. The suit seeks $100 million in civil damages, alleging defamation, abuse of civil process and conspiracy. A copy of the suit was distributed to media Wednesday by the movies’ director, Joe Gilbert. The case does not yet appear on the online docket of the Polk court system.
The lead defendant in the suit is Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother who became a national figure in the wake of her son’s death as a campaign surrogate for Hillary Clinton and a national advocate for social justice and reducing gun deaths. She’s running for the District 1 seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission being vacated by a term-limited Barbara Jordan in the Miami Gardens area.
Martin lived with Fulton, then a county employee, in Miami Gardens, and was visiting his father, Tracy Martin, in Sanford on Feb. 26, 2012, when he died in a gated community where his father’s fiancee lived. Martin was returning from a store with candy. Zimmerman, 28 at the time, reported Martin as suspicious to police in a recorded call after 7 p.m.
The details that followed remain in dispute, with Zimmerman claiming he was attacked by Martin and defended himself. Police and prosecutors described an unjustified shooting of a teenager in a hoodie with Skittles and a drink. A jury acquitted Zimmerman of all charges in 2013.
The lawsuit presses the Zimmerman version of events, with allegations of efforts by the Martin family to produce a false narrative through dishonest accounts from witnesses. The suit also names prosecutors in the Zimmerman case, alleging false prosecution, as well as book publisher Harper Collins over the October release of “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People.” The book is by Ben Crump, who represented the Martin family. Crump is also named in the suit, which states all defendants “have worked in concert to deprive Zimmerman of his constitutional and other legal rights.”
Crump, Klayman and a campaign representative for Fulton did not respond immediately to requests for comment.