George Zimmerman, the man acquitted for the 2012 fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin while he was on neighborhood watch, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the boy’s family, their attorneys and prosecutors for damages of more than $100 million.
Mr. Zimmerman said Martin attacked him in February 2012 while in a Sanford, Florida, gated community. Despite the Justice Department not pressing charges, Martin’s death sparked protests and a national dialogue about race.
His attorney, Larry Klayman, said the lawsuit centers around Rachel Jeantel, who was considered a key witness but Mr. Klayman said was an “imposter and fake.”
The lawsuit claims the Sanford Police Department closed the case as self-defense, but the Martin family attorney, Benjamin Crump, brought forward a tape from Martin’s then-girlfriend “Diamond Eugene” and claimed she was on the phone with Martin before the altercation.
However, two weeks later, Ms. Jeantel allegedly admitted she was Ms. Eugene and said she “provided false statements to incriminate Zimmerman based on coaching from others.”
The lawsuit says: “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. Defendant Jeantel also lied about her identity, falsely claiming her nickname to be ‘Diamond Eugene.’ “
During the trial, Ms. Jeantel testified she falsely signed her name as Diamond Eugene in a letter sent to Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton.
“It was a complete travesty of justice which destroyed my client’s life,” Mr. Klayman said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “People are destroyed and smeared, and they have to start fighting back.”
Mr. Zimmerman says in the lawsuit that the case forced him to drop out of school, receive death threats and caused him “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.”
PTSD and PTSS stand for post-traumatic stress disorder and post-traumatic stress syndrome, respectively.