George Zimmerman had been seeking up to $100 million in damages against the Martin family, claiming they tried to portray him as a murderous racist.
A Florida judge had dismissed a defamation and conspiracy lawsuit filed by former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Black teenager Trayvon Martin nearly a decade ago.
According to NBC News, Tallahassee-based Judge John Cooper dismissed all counts against Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin; their attorney, Benjamin Crump; and several others.
In his ruling, Cooper said that Zimmerman had failed to show “any fraudulent representation,” and opined that any further arguments would likely be futile.
“There can be no claim for conspiracy to defraud if there is no adequately stated claim for fraud,” Cooper wrote in his order.
NBC News notes that the other defendants in the case included individual plaintiffs Brittany Diamond Eugene, Rachel Jeantel, and publishing house HarperCollins, which released a book about the shooting and trial written by Martin’s parents.
In his lawsuit, Zimmerman alleged that Brittany Diamond Eugene refused to testify that she had been talking to Martin on the phone before he was killed. Zimmerman said that her half-sister, Rachel Jeantel, committed perjury by taking the stand in Eugene’s place, telling police and jurors that she had been the one to speak to Martin.
Jeantel, adds NBC News, ended up testifying against Zimmerman in the 2013 murder trial.
Zimmerman said that Trayvon Martin’s parents—along with their attorney, Benjamin Crump—arranged and participated in a conspiracy to get charges filed against him, trying to “destroy his good will and faith and reputation in the community.”
Zimmerman also claimed that the Martin family and their associates tried to portray him as a racist murderer who killed Trayvon Martin simply because he was a Black boy wearing a hoodie.
In response to the lawsuit, Crump suggested that Zimmerman filed the lawsuit to garner publicity and profit at the Martin family’s expense.
“This plaintiff continues to display a callous disregard for everyone but himself, revictimizing individuals whose lives were shattered by his own misguided actions,” Crump said in a statement. “He would have us believe that he is the innocent victim of a deep conspiracy, despite the complete lack of any credible evidence to support his outlandish claims. This tale defies all logic, and it’s time to close the door on these baseless imaginings.”
Although the shooting of Trayvon Martin and subsequent trial of Zimmerman helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement, Zimmerman has long maintained his innocence; he insists that he only shot and killed Martin out of self-defense, despite having exited a moving vehicle to confront Martin for appearing “suspicious.”
Zimmerman was ultimately acquitted of all charges in 2013.