TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, is now suing the teen's family, the state of Florida and Tallahassee civil rights attorney Ben Crump for $100 million
The SunSentinel reports that Zimmerman's attorney said that the lawsuit against Martin, his family, their attorney Tallahassee civil rights attorney Ben Crump, and several others was filed Wednesday in Polk County.
Zimmerman was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Martin, who was 17 years old, in 2012.
The lawsuit, filed in Polk County, lists Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, as defendants, along with Crump, former State Attorney Angela Corey, prosecutors Bernie de la Rionda and John Guy, Rachel Jeantel, Brittany Diamond Eugene, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the State of Florida, and HarperCollins Publisher
The suit alleges that a key witness for the prosecution in his 2013 murder trial, 18-year-old Rachel Jeantel, lied about being Martin's 16-year-old girlfriend "Diamond Eugene" and alleged that she "provided false statements to incriminate Zimmerman based on coaching from others."
Based on the cellphone records, attorneys contend Jeantel was not Martin's girlfriend and wasn't on the phone with him before the fatal shooting. They say Crump worked with Martin's actual girlfriend, Brittany Eugene, to "witness switch," and get Jeantel to commit perjury.
The lawsuit also asserts that Crump and HarperCollins Publishers published a defamatory book in October 2019 about him called Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People, "with actual malice knowing the untruth or at a minimum a reckless disregard for the truth."
Zimmerman's attorneys argue that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the state of Florida, and several state attorneys worked together to carry out an unjust prosecution against Zimmerman.
"This criminal prosecution was knowingly instituted by the Prosecution Defendants without probable cause and with malice, as they knowingly put on a false witness in order to try to obtain a conviction against Plaintiff Zimmerman, which they were still unable to do," the lawsuit reads.
As a result of the "malicious prosecution action," lawyers say Zimmerman's reputation and income have been severely damaged.
"Zimmerman lives in constant fear of physical harm due to regular death threats, which often are expressed in rap music as well as online social media commentary," the lawsuit reads. "In 2015, a man named Matthew Apperson attempted to murder Zimmerman by shooting a bullet at him that missed his head by inches."
ABC 27 is reaching out to Tallahassee attorney Benjamin Crump for comment.
You can read a copy of the lawsuit by clicking here.