Why did George Zimmerman file a $100 million defamation suit against Trayvon Martin's parents?

Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013, victim's family calls lawsuit a shameless attempt

Six years after he was acquitted from charges of second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, George Zimmerman has filed $100m lawsuit for defamation and malicious prosecution against the deceased's family members, their attorneys, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and a publishing firm. The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in the Florida state court.

Represented by Larry Klayman, the 36-year-old has filed the law-suit against Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, along with Jeantel and Eugene, Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, several Florida prosecutors, the state of Florida and its law enforcement department and HarperCollins, who published Crump's book, Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People, based on violence toward black people.

The hi-profile case, which started the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, garnered a lot of public sympathy for the victim. Then US President Barack Obama, in a message to Martin's parents, said: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.

How did 17-year-old Trayvon Martin get killed?

Trayvon Martin
Trayvon Martin Trayvon Martin Foundation

On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was returning to his father's fiancée' house after buying candies and soda from a nearby gas station when he was murdered by George Zimmerman, in the gated community in Sanford.

Zimmerman, a neighbourhood watch volunteer who was patrolling the gated community, said during the trial that he fired shots at Martin in self-defence. In a call made to the Sanford Police Department, Zimmerman had reported Martin as a suspicious teen wearing a hoodie and moving towards him. He then told the dispatcher that he was following Martin, to which the dispatcher responded by saying. "OK, we don't need you to do that."

During the case, Zimmerman's lawyer Larry Klayman had alleged that Rachel Jeantel, a key witness for the prosecution was an imposter who appeared in place of Brittany Diamond Eugene, her half-sister after she refused to testify in the case.

In her testimony, Jeantel had claimed that she was on the phone with Martin just before he was shot dead. "Martin said he was being pursued by a "creepy-ass cracker" as he walked home," said Jeantel in her testimony.

The 100 million lawsuit

In his lawsuit, Zimmerman, claims that all the defendants 'have worked in concert to deprive Zimmerman of his constitutional and other related legal rights.'

In the 36-page lawsuit, Zimmerman claimed that the "malicious prosecution" destroyed his reputation in the society. Alleging that state's attorney, Angela Corey, and her team of prosecutors trusted the testimony of an imposter Rachel Jeantel.

Stating that he is suffering from depression and PTSD, Zimmerman said that Crump has insulted him in his book Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People. Klayman, said in the suit, that his client often receives death threats when he appears in public and is living under constant fear to his life.

Martin's family and lawyers react to the lawsuit

In a statement released jointly by Crump and Martin's parents said:

"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."

"The 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."

"This tale defies logic. and it's time to close the door on these baseless imaginings."

Zimmerman is a regular offender

Ever since his acquittal, Zimmerman has been embroiled in several controversies. In 2013, he was arrested and charged with assault for allegedly pointing a shotgun at his then-girlfriend, who later dropped the charges.

In 2015, Zimmerman was arrested on charges of domestic violence after he allegedly threw a bottle of wine at his girlfriend. The charges were dropped again. In 2016, he tried to sell off the gun used by him to kill Trayvon. He had called the weapon "American firearm icon" and said that the sale proceeds would be used to fight the agendas of Black Lives Matter.

In 2018, Zimmerman was arrested on the charges of cyberstalking and harassing a private investigator. The private investigator was hired by producer Michael Gasparro and Jay-Z who were producing a documentary series about Trayvon Martin.