George Zimmerman, the former Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after a racially charged trial, has filed a $265 million defamation lawsuit against two of the Democrats running for president — Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.
The lawsuit claims the candidates “defamed Zimmerman for political gain in misguided and malicious attempts to bolster their standings amongst African-American voters, all at Zimmerman’s expense.”
They did so in “separate postings on their Twitter accounts” on Feb. 5 that suggested that Zimmerman killed Martin as a result of “racism” or “fear” because of the teen’s skin color, the suit alleges.
“The defamatory tweets are not an account of two sides of an issue that raises questions in a reader’s mind,” the suit states. “They are evidence of not only a reckless disregard of the truth but also of common law malice.”
Warren and Buttigieg “intentionally desired to ‘get’ Plaintiff Zimmerman and ‘muckrake’ him,” the suit states.
The lawsuit included the tweets, which Warren, D-Mass., and Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, posted to mark what would have been Martin’s 25th birthday.
The Warren and the Buttigieg campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The lawsuit landed as both candidates were preparing for a debate in Las Vegas.
Zimmerman’s lawsuit was filed by his attorney, Larry Klayman, founder of the conservative nonprofit Judicial Watch.
In December, Klayman filed another lawsuit on behalf of Zimmerman, this one a $100 million action against the dead teenager’s family and others who were involved in the hard-fought case, which divided the nation.
In that suit, Klayman claimed that the attorney for Martin’s parents, Benjamin Crump, defamed Zimmerman in his book, “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People.”
Martin, who lived in Miami, was killed Feb. 26, 2012, while he was walking to his father’s girlfriend’s home in a gated community in Sanford, a city near Orlando.
Zimmerman, who regularly patrolled the development, encountered the unarmed black teenager as he was returning from a 7-Eleven where he had bought a package of Skittles and an Arizona Watermelon Fruit Juice cocktail.
There is no dispute that Zimmerman fatally shot the teen. But state prosecutors contended that Zimmerman racially profiled the hoodie-clad youth and continued to tail him even after a police dispatcher told him that was not necessary.
Zimmerman’s lawyers claimed he shot the teenager in self-defense after Martin jumped him and beat him up. His acquittal sparked protests nationwide. The Justice Department decided not to bring a civil rights case against Zimmerman.