George Zimmerman, who fatally shot an unarmed Trayvon Martin in 2012 and was acquitted of the black teen’s death the following year, is filing a lawsuit against Martin’s family and others seeking millions in damages, the Sun-Sentinel reports.
According to the local paper, Larry Klayman, who is representing Zimmerman, confirmed the suit was filed in Polk County, Fla., on Wednesday. In the lawsuit, which seeks an excess of $100 million, Zimmerman reportedly takes aim specifically at Rachel Jeantel, a friend of Martin who was a witness in the trial that followed his death, calling her an “imposter and fake witness.”
His team claims in the suit that after Zimmerman fatally shot Martin in Sanford, Fla., in 2012, local police shut the case after determining Zimmerman killed Martin in self-defense the following the month.
However, the lawsuit reportedly alleges that the case was picked up again when Benjamin Crump, an attorney that represented Martin’s family, brought Jeantel onto the case as a witness “and provided false statements to incriminate Zimmerman based on coaching from others.”
Crump on Wednesday called the lawsuit “unfounded and reckless” and an attempt to “profit off the lives and grief of others.”
“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,” he said in a statement.
“This tale defies all logic, and it’s time to close the door on these baseless imaginings.”
Zimmerman’s lawyers reportedly claimed in the suit that Jeantel lied about being Martin’s girlfriend and being on the phone with him prior to his altercation with Zimmerman that led to his death. They also alleged that she “lied about her identity,” according to the paper.
“Defendant Jeantel lied repeatedly about having a relationship with Trayvon, about being on the phone with Trayvon in the days and minutes up to his death, and lied about everything she claimed to have heard over the phone in the hours and minutes prior to Trayvon’s death,” the lawyers reportedly said in the suit. “Defendant Jeantel also lied about her identity, falsely claiming her nickname to be ‘Diamond Eugene.’ ”
Zimmerman’s team is also reportedly suing Crump for defamation over his book, “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People,” as well as the publisher of the book, HarperCollins Publishers. In the suit, his lawyers reportedly claim the book’s title “creates the false implication that Plaintiff Zimmerman participated and participates in the genocide of colored people.”
The Hill’s request for comment to HarperCollins Publishers and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, were not immediately returned.
In the lawsuit, Zimmerman’s team also reportedly claimed that after the charges he suffered “great mental anguish, resulting in Zimmerman requiring professional treatment by psychologists for anxiety, depression, insomnia, and weight gain. Zimmerman was formally diagnosed with depression as well as PTSD and PTSS which he suffers from and remains in treatment for to this day.”
Zimmerman, 36, was a neighborhood watch leader in Sanford when he fatally shot Martin, who was 17, in 2012. Zimmerman has long maintained that he shot Martin, an unarmed black young man, in self-defense. However, at the time, Zimmerman had been instructed by a police dispatcher to not follow him.
Martin’s death sparked a wave of protests across the nation over the treatment of black people in the country, and Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting helped serve as a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement.
–This report was updated at 2:55 p.m.