By Gary White, The Lakeland Ledger
George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the fatal shooting of a Florida teenager in 2012, filed a lawsuit against two presidential candidates, alleging they defamed him.
Zimmerman, who lives in Polk County, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in 10th Judicial Circuit Court. The suit names Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg as defendants.
The suit claims Warren and Buttigieg separately defamed Zimmerman in Twitter statements Feb. 5 recognizing what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 25th birthday. The suit says both did so “for political gain in misguided and malicious attempts to bolster their standings amongst African-American voters, all at Zimmerman’s expense.”
Sen. Warren, D-Mass., has about 3.6 million Twitter followers, and Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has about 1.6 million.
Zimmerman is represented by Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch, a Washington organization that frequently files lawsuits on behalf of conservative causes.
In the court filing, Zimmerman seeks a damages award of $265 million.
Feb. 26 will mark eight years since Martin, 17, was shot and killed.
Zimmerman was a volunteer member of a neighborhood watch group in 2012 when he followed Martin, who was visiting family in a gated community in Sanford, Florida. Martin noticed Zimmerman and confronted him, and a struggle ensued in which Zimmerman fatally shot the teenager.
After being charged with murder, Zimmerman claimed self-defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute. He was acquitted in a trial in 2013.
On Feb. 5, Buttigieg tweeted, “Trayvon Martin would have been 25 today. How many 25th birthdays have been stolen from us by white supremacy, gun violence, prejudice, and fear?”
The same day, Warren tweeted, “My heart goes out to @SybrinaFulton and Trayvon’s family and friends. He should still be with us today. We need to end gun violence and racism. And we need to build a world where all of our children – especially young Black boys – can grow up safe and free.”
Sybrina Fulton is Martin’s mother.
The 30-page lawsuit includes a long summary of the events leading up to the shooting of Martin.
Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County in December against Fulton, family lawyer Benjamin Crump, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the state of Florida and others, seeking $100 million in damages.
This article originally appeared in The Lakeland Ledger via USA Today.