SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - George Zimmerman is accusing two of the leading Democratic presidential contenders of defamation.
Zimmerman, who was acquitted in the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, reportedly filed a lawsuit in Florida this week against Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Washington Times reports.
According to the Washington Times, the lawsuit accuses the two of “maliciously defam[ing]” Mr. Zimmerman, using the killing “as a pretext to demagogue and falsely brand Zimmerman as a white supremacist and racist to their millions of Twitter followers.”
The lawsuit reportedly seeks $265,000,000, the Washington Times reports.
The tweet the lawsuit if referring to is reportedly one made on February 5 on what would have been Trayvon Martin's 25th birthday.
"My heart goes out to [Martin's mother] @SybrinaFulton and Trayvon's family and friends. He should still be with us today," Warren tweeted to her 3.7 million followers. "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."
Buttigieg also reportedly added on Twitter, "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 Washington Times reports that the lawsuit accuses Ms. Warren and Mr. Buttigieg of actual malice, "a prerequisite to win a libel case if one is a public figure."
“Both defendants, Buttigieg and Warren, are alleged in the complaint to have acted with actual malice, as it is widely known that Zimmerman was acquitted of murder based on self-defense,” the announcement said, according to the Washington Times.
Zimmerman's attorney, Larry Klayman claims the tweets were made to bolster both candidates' standings with African American voters. “They used George Zimmerman as a whipping boy to try to whip up votes in the African American community," Klayman said.
The suit was reportedly filed in Polk County, Florida.
Zimmerman was acquitted in 2012 of shooting and killing the 17-year-old Martin.
In December 2019, Zimmerman's attorney announced that his client is suing Martin's family, prosecutors and others for $100 million.
Attorneys not associated with the case tell Fox 35 News the case may be difficult to prove. “There is no mention of Mr. Zimmerman in the tweets themselves, and there are no facts that are stated in the tweets. Defamation claims require a false statement of fact about somebody,” said First Amendment attorney Larry Walters. “So if you imply enough in the tweet to suggest this is clearly about Mr. Zimmerman, then perhaps there would be a claim there. And that may be ultimately something for a judge or a jury to decide in this case.”