George Zimmerman has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the family of Trayvon Martin, one of their lawyers Ben Crump, several prosecutors, a book publisher and more for malicious prosecution, defamation, conspiracy, and abuse of process. Zimmerman was previously acquitted on homicide charges in 2013 for the fatal shooting of Martin; he claimed he was acting in self-defense.
Zimmerman is being represented by Larry Klayman, a conservative attorney who founded the right-wing activist group Judicial Watch. The suit accuses the various defendants of violating Zimmerman’s “constitutional rights” and claims it is based on facts “recently discovered” in a new book and film called The Trayvon Hoax, by Joel Gilbert, a noted conspiracy theorist who’s pushed unfounded claims about Barack Obama, Paul McCartney, and Elvis, and appeared regularly on Alex Jones’ InfoWars.
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Pulling from the book, the suit alleges that Martin’s mother and father, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, as well as Crump and several Florida prosecutors pushed a false narrative about the night that Martin was killed. Specifically, it alleges that witness Rachel Jeantel lied about being on the phone with Martin when the incident took place and that she “provided false statements to incriminate Zimmerman based on coaching from others.”
The suit goes on to claim that it wasn’t Jeantel on the phone with Martin that night, but rather a Miami resident named Brittany Diamond Eugene “who was switched out for Jeantel when Eugene refused to bear false witness against Zimmerman.”
The suit also accuses Crump of making false statements about Zimmerman in his new book, Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People. It alleges that because of Crump’s ties to the the Martin case, “the title of the book is reasonably understood to refer” to Zimmerman, creating “the false implication that [Zimerman] participated and participates in the ‘genocide of colored people.’” It also takes semantic issues with a line in the book that states law enforcement told Zimmerman not to pursue Martin and stand down until police arrived, but he did so nevertheless. For one, the suit alleges Zimmerman was not talking to a law enforcement officer but a “non-emergency dispatcher,” while it also cites a record of the call that says Zimmerman responded “okay” when asked not to pursue Martin.
The lawsuit claims Crump made this claims and HarperCollins published them “with actual malice in order to sell books and justify its absurd, inflammatory, racial charged book title… that suggested Plaintiff Zimmerman was at the forefront of this genocide.”
In a statement provided to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Crump 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.”
Klayman did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.
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