Despite having gotten away with murder, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has just filed a $100 million lawsuit against the family of Trayvon Martin and attorney Ben Crump, claiming that they engineered false evidence against him.
Zimmerman, who was acquitted of homicide charges in the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, is being represented by high-profile lawyer, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, and former US Department of Justice prosecutor, Larry Klayman in a lawsuit seeking damages for defamation, abuse of civil process, and conspiracy.
Martin was shot and killed on February 26, 2012 when he was returning to his father’s home, whom he was visiting, after purchasing candy at a local store. Zimmerman reported Martin as suspicious in a call to police. Zimmerman claims he followed Martin after making the call and was attacked by the teen before killing him. Martin was unarmed, carrying only the Skittles and a drink he had just purchased.
The lawsuit, to be filed Wednesday in Polk County where Zimmerman lives, alleges that Rachel Jeantel, a key witness in the 2013 murder trial, actually wasn’t a witness at all and was instead “an imposter and fake witness” coached by the family and their lawyers to take the place of Diamond Eugene.
Information cited in the case comes from the book and accompanying documentary The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America, which accuses the family of creating false testimony. The film was scheduled to be screened in Coral Gables, Florida but, in light of recent developments, Coral Gables Art Cinema announced it would be canceling the event along with a press conference with the film’s director, Joe Gilbert.
Coral Gables Art Cinema was not aware of all of the details surrounding this event and has made a decision to cancel it.— Coral Gables Art Cinema (@gablescinema) December 4, 2019
According to the book, Martin’s cell phone records prove that Eugene, whom they say was Martin’s actual girlfriend at the time, was on the phone with him at the time of the shooting. The book accuses Martin’s family and lawyers for swapping Eugene out for Jeantel when Eugene refused to testify. The book charges that Jeantel “lied repeatedly to cause Zimmerman’s arrest and to try to send him to prison for life.”
A media advisory posted on Klayman’s website prior to the filing of the suit mentions the now cancelled press conference and screening and explains the inspiration behind the suit:
“Specifically, the complaint alleges that in March 2012, the Sanford Police Department thoroughly investigated the shooting of Trayvon Martin and closed the case as self-defense. A week later, Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump produced a recorded audio tape of “Diamond Eugene” whom he said was Trayvon’s 16-year-old girlfriend who was on the phone with Trayvon just before the altercation. However, two weeks later, 18-year-old Rachel Jeantel, the alleged imposter, appeared before prosecutors claiming to be “Diamond Eugene” and provided false statements to incriminate Zimmerman based on coaching from others.
These allegations are the result of newly discovered evidence just published in a book and film by Hollywood film director Joel Gilbert, called The Trayvon Hoax: Unmasking the Witness Fraud that Divided America. Based on Trayvon’s cell phone records, they allegedly show that Rachel Jeantel was not Trayvon’s girlfriend, was not on the phone with Trayvon before the altercation, and that she lied repeatedly to cause Zimmerman’s arrest and to try to send him to prison for life. The research also allegedly reveals that Trayvon’s real girlfriend and legitimate phone witness was in fact Miami resident Brittany Diamond Eugene, who was switched out for Jeantel when Eugene refused to bear false witness against Zimmerman.”
According to the Miami Herald, the film’s director distributed a copy of the suit, which does not yet appear in the online docket of the Polk County court system, to media.
Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, is the lead defendant in the suit. Since her son’s death, Fulton has become somewhat of a national figure both as an advocate for reducing gun deaths and as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Fulton is currently running for a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission.
The family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, also a defendant in the suit, responded in a statement on Wednesday:
“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 suit also names book publisher Harper Collins over Crump’s book Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People, as well as Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father; Florida prosecutors Bernie de la Rionda, John Guy, and Angela Corey; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; and the state of Florida.
Zimmerman contends that his version of events that took place on the evening of February 26, 2012 are correct while Martin’s family engineered a false narrative. All of the defendants in the suit are accused of “knowing about or should have known about the witness fraud, obstructing justice” or repeatedly lying “under oath in order to cover up their knowledge of the witness fraud.”