Things That Matter

The Man Who Shot And Killed Trayvon Martin Is Now Suing His Family For $100 Million

George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager in the gated community of Sanford, Florida, has launched a $100 million lawsuit against Martin’s family, their lawyer and the prosecutors for defamation and “malicious prosecution,” according to the Guardian

In 2012, Zimmerman shot Martin by his own admission. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” laws, which allow murder in the case of self-defense, meant that there was no initial charge against Zimmerman because police had no way of disputing his claim. However, when audio of Zimmerman’s call to the police revealed he followed Martin despite police orders not to, a public outcry sparked a trial. Prosecutors and authorities argued that the shooting was unjustified in court. 

The lawsuit filed by a rightwing conservative legal activist group known as Judicial Watch claims Zimmerman has PTSD and depression from the trial. 

Zimmerman, who has had multiple run-ins with the law since being acquitted of second-degree murder charges, filed a 36-page lawsuit claims the three parties ruined his reputation. He also claims he lives in fear of public death threats. Zimmerman’s attorney Lary Klayman says prosecutors relied on a “fake witness” who pretended to be Martin’s girlfriend but was really the half-sister of his allegedly real girlfriend. 

The witness in question, Rachel Jeantel was allegedly recruited by the state attorney Angela Corey when Martin’s real girlfriend refused to provide incriminating testimony.  Zimmerman and company believe Jeantel is a fraud largely because of a conspiracy theory propagated by a book and film that claim the Martin case was a hoax, according to the Washington Post

Both pieces of media allege that his case was built on witness fraud. The director of the film Joel Gilbert scheduled a screening of the film in celebration of the lawsuit announcement. 

Zimmerman is also suing for defamation of character.

Zimmerman’s lawsuit says that the civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Martin’s parents, attempted to defame the murderer in his book Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People. 

“I have every confidence that this unfounded and reckless lawsuit will be revealed for what it is, another failed attempt to defend the indefensible and a shameless attempt to profit off the lives and grief of others,” Crump said in a statement.

“This plaintiff continues to display a callous disregard for everyone but himself. He would have us believe that he is the victim of a deep conspiracy despite the complete lack of any credible evidence to support his outlandish claims.”

Zimmerman has struggled with the law on multiple occasions since his acquittal.

In 2013,  Zimmerman was charged with felony aggravated assault after pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend allegedly. The case was dropped. In 2015, he was arrested on charges of domestic aggravated assault for throwing a wine bottle at his girlfriend, allegedly. The case was also dropped, according to the Washington Post. 

The same year, Zimmerman retweeted a photo of Martin’s deceased body with the caption “Z-man is a one-army, according to CBS News. The same year, Zimmerman was suspended from Twitter for posting semi-nude photos of his ex-girlfriend that revealed her personal information including her email and phone number. The caption accused her of sleeping with a “dirty Muslim.” 

In 2016, Zimmerman tried to auction the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin to raise money to defend police officers from Black Lives Matter and Hillary Clinton, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Since Zimmerman murdered Martin in 2018, he was charged with stalking a private investigator who was working on a Jay-Z documentary about Martin. Zimmerman sent two and a half hours’ worth of voicemails to the private investigator. 

His legal troubles go back even before the shooting. In 2005, he was arrested for a domestic dispute resulting in a restraining order filed against him. In another incident that year, he was arrested for battery of an undercover officer who arrested Zimmerman’s underage friend. 

Crump did not seem to worry at all about Zimmerman’s lawsuit. It appears, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on in court.

“This tale defies all logic, and it’s time to close the door on these baseless imaginings,” Crump said. 

Prosecutors Have Launched An Investigation On The White Couple Pointing Guns At St. Louis Protesters

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Prosecutors Have Launched An Investigation On The White Couple Pointing Guns At St. Louis Protesters

@xshularx/ Twitter

Update: A Change.Org petition is asking for the McCloskeys to be disbarred after pointing guns at protesters. The scene from a BLM protest has become a visual representation of the racial tensions in the U.S. as the white couple aimed weapons at people of color peacefully protesting.

The McCloskeys neighbors have released an open letter denouncing them and their actions.

“Some of us choose to speak up following horrific events that transpired on Sunday evening near our homes,” reads the letter denouncing the horrific actions of the couple. “As the undersigned, we condemn the behavior of anyone who uses threats of violence, especially through the brandishing of firearms, to disrupt peaceful protest, whether it be in this neighborhood or anywhere in the United States.”

There is also a growing petition to have the two disbarred.

A quick online search shows that the McCloskeys have taken down their law firm’s website. It hasn’t made people forget that they are attorneys and broke Missouri law when aiming the firearms are protesters.

“The look in her eyes speaks volumes,” reads the Change.Org petition. “They need to be held accountable. Brandishing a weapon with intent (as clearly displayed in this photo) is a criminal offense when you are not in direct danger.”

Updated June 30, 2020.

Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner confirmed earlier this week that her office is collaborating with the police to investigate recent incident which saw a white couple waving guns at protestors over the weekend.

The middle-aged white couple became the fun, new, and trending Twitter hashtag on Sunday after they had been spotted wielding guns at protesters outside their home in St. Louis. Soon after the images of them began circulating Twitter dubbed them “Ken and Karen” and the stars of the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” remake no one asked for. The incident occurred as protesters marched their way towards the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson.

The protesters demanded her resignation after she went public with the names and addresses of activists in a Facebook Live video on Friday.

Video of the incident, which took place on Sunday, shows the couple waving their guns outside their mansion.

The couple in the video, who appears to be dressed in their very bland versions of their Sunday best’s: a pink polo and khaki pants paired with an assault rifle for him and a striped T-shirt and capris with a handgun for her, have been identified by police as Mark McCloskey, 63 years old, and Patricia McCloskey, 61 years-old.

The pair can be seen screaming and shouting at protesters while pointing their guns at them. According to reports, the woman can be seen holding her finger on the trigger.

BuzzFeed reports that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department identified the couple as victims in their police report. The statement asserts that the couple contacted police “when they heard a loud commotion coming from the street” and “observed a large group of subjects forcefully break an iron gate marked with ‘No Trespassing’ and ‘Private Street’ signs.”

In the report made to the police, the couple claimed protesters were “yelling obscenities and threats of harm to both victims” and that they took out their guns once they saw “multiple subjects who were armed.” Police did not say confirm the couple’s claim or indicate that there was evidence to prove protesters threatened or aimed guns at the couple.

The incident is a reminder of Missouri’s loose gun laws that permit the carrying of concealed weapons without background checks or permits.

The protests sparked after Krewson appeared in a now-deleted Facebook Live video on Friday.

In the video Krewson declared that she would not support = rising calls to defund the police. She also reportedly shared activists’ full names and addresses while reading off suggestions on how to better spend the city’s funds. After users ridiculed her online, Krewson apologized for her actions saying “Never did I intend to harm anyone or cause distress,” Krewson tweeted. “The update is removed and again, I apologize.”

In response to her decision to out activist and put them in harm’s way, local leaders and organizations called for her to resign. Over 45,000 people signed a Change.org petition demanding her resignation condemning her as “a risk for the safety and well being of the general St. Louis population.”

In a statement about the incident, Gardner asserted the right to peacefully protest.

“I am alarmed at the events that occurred over the weekend, where peaceful protesters were met by guns and a violent assault,” Gardner said in a statement. “We must protect the right to peacefully protest, and any attempt to chill it through intimidation or threat of deadly force will not be tolerated.”

Albert Watkins, the McCloskeys’ attorney, told USA TODAY in an interview that the circuit attorney is not “possessed of the legal wherewithal to understand some of these fundamental tenets.” He went onto lambast the notion that his clients acted unlawfully calling the suggestion “one which would demonstrate unequivocally the wholesale absence of appreciation for longstanding law in the state of Missouri.”

In an odd twist, Watkins has also asserted that the McCloskeys are actually lawyers who have worked on civil rights cases and are supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement. Speaking about their actions on Sunday, Watkins said that their decision to bring out their guns was sparked by “abject fear of imminent harm” but they were not race-related.

Family Of Andres Guardado Are Asking For The Autopsy Report Be Released

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Family Of Andres Guardado Are Asking For The Autopsy Report Be Released

David McNew / Getty Images

Update July 8, 2020, 11:15 a.m. PST: The family of Andrés Guardado has received an independent autopsy report in the young man’s death. After weeks of demanding answers, the report ordered by the family found that Guardado died from multiple gun wounds to the back.

An independent autopsy reports that Andrés Guardado died after being shot in the back.

The report found that Guardado was shot five times in the back by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy Miguel Vega, according to the LA Times. The family was compelled to pay for their own independent autopsy because a “security hold” was placed o the official autopsy from the LA Country Coroner.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing, according to the LA Times and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department officials are not commenting on the progress. However, Sheriff’s Lt. Charles Calderaro told the LA Times that the “security hold” on the official autopsy would be lifted in the coming weeks.

“I know there’s people that want answers, but when you conduct a thorough investigation sometimes you need to protect the integrity of future statements you might be getting,” Sheriff’s Lt. Charles Calderaro told the LA Times.

Update: On June 18, Andrés Guardado was shot and killed by officers of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The 18-year-old was working as a security guard at an auto mechanic shop when he was killed. Two weeks later, the family is demanding the autopsy report.

It’s been two weeks since Andrés Guardado was killed by LASD officers and the autopsy still hasn’t been released.

Guardado was working as a security guard for an auto repair shop when he was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. The death sparked protests in southern California demanding justice.

“He told me he was going to come back home and eat some tacos dorados, but he never came back home. My family and my community feel destroyed because we still don’t know anything. We don’t know what happened with my son,” said Elisa Guardado, Andrés’s mother, in Spanish during a press conference.

The family is demanding the release of Andrés’s autopsy, which has recently been delayed. A security hold was placed on the autopsy just two days after the head of the homicide bureau, Capt. Kent Wegener, said the autopsy would be released to the public. It’s been about a week and the family demands to see the autopsy for closure and to know what happened to their loved one.

Original: Friends and family are demanding answers after an 18-year-old boy was shot and killed by a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy. The man, identified at Andrés Guardado, was working as a security guard when he was shot and killed by an LASD deputy. The killing has set off protests and national outrage.

Andrés Guardado was killed by a Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputy and the community is demanding answers.

According to reports, Guardado was working as a security guard in Gardena, California when LASD officers drove by. The officers claim that Guardado was not wearing a security guard uniform when they drove by the auto repair shop and that he had a gun.

His death is sparking outrage in California because it is another example of police brutality. Protesters have taken to the streets in major cities demonstrating for weeks. The protesters are demanding severe police reform to save the lives of Black and brown people killed by the police.

The nation is taking notice and demanding some action to bring justice.

Those who knew Guardado are casting a lot of doubt on the story being pushed by the police. The case has drawn the attention of national and local politicians demanding something to be done to fully investigate Guardado’s death.

“Another day and another Black or Brown kid has been shot in the back by police,” Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán and Maxine Waters, both from Los Angeles, said in a joint statement. “These killings must stop. We demand it. The American people demand it.”

Videos of the store owner sharing what happened are circulating on social media.

According to the shop owner, the sheriffs came to the shop and took the tapes and recording equipment with the footage. This was done before a warrant was issued for the equipment. In the video, the shop owner shows the damage done to the cameras.

The shop owner claims that the officers were not wearing body cameras. Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva acknowledged the importance of all officers wearing body cameras.

The story from the police and the story from the shop owner and family are very different.

The discrepancies have led to protests against the police adding to the growing unrest from Americans against police brutality. States and cities across the country have started to take steps to wrangle in the numerous police departments.

“I firmly believe that an immediate and independent investigation must be conducted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) into this matter, and I urge the Sheriff’s Department to immediately and fully cooperate with this OIG independent investigation,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said in a statement.

People are protesting to demand justice for Guardado.

As more and more people join in the fight to radically reform the police, the country gets closer to ending over-policing. Guardado is not the first and won’t be the last questionable killing of a person of color by police in the U.S. Rest in peace, Andres.

READ: Protests Erupt After Police Kill A Mexican-American Teenager In Mexico