March 22nd, 2012
03:45 PM ET

Sanford police chief 'temporarily' steps down

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee said he must "temporarily remove myself" from duty, a day after the City Commission voted 3-2 in favor of a nonbinding measure of no confidence in him.

"My role as the leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation …." Lee said during a news conference.

He added, "I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to the city, which has been in turmoil for several weeks."

Lee had come under fire following concerns that his police department did not adequately handle the fatal shooting last month of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Martin was shot February 26 while walking to the house of his father's fiancee after a trip to a convenience store. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch leader, said he shot the unarmed 17-year-old in self-defense.

Following the shooting, thousands of people tweeted out Lee's photo and phone number asking them to flood him with calls because they believed his department had not properly investigated the case. Many of those people believed Zimmerman should have been arrested for the shooting.

"It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process," Lee said.

Zimmerman has not been arrested. Police say they have not charged Zimmerman because they have no evidence to contradict his story that he shot in self-defense, leading to a new debate over a controversial state law.

Florida's deadly force law, also called "stand your ground," allows people to meet "force with force" if they believe that there is danger of serious harm to themselves or someone else.

Lee said he continued to stand by the police department as well as their investigation into Martin's death.

A Seminole County grand jury will convene on the matter April 10, according to State Attorney Norm Wolfinger.

FULL STORY
soundoff (480 Responses)
  1. Shuffler

    Evidently 911 calls in florida are not allowed in as evidence. Nor is the statement of the perp that the kid walked/ran off towards the back. This stand your ground law does not play into what happened here. He chased the kid down and confronted him even after being told not to. Then because his ego got his tail into more than he could handle he pulls a gun. Unless the reports, 911 call from the perp, and such are just completely clueless then this young man was murdered.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CJ

    Unless Florida is in a different country, The DA's office is reponsible for bringing charges and prosecuting cases...not the police. Police only conduct the investigation. 99% of the time the DA is right alongside in a high profile case. Why are the cops taking the beating on this? Where is the DA? The fact that the DA is silent and they are sending it to a grand jury makes me think that the DA also doesnt think there was enough evidence to charge Zimmerman, or they would have done it and not convened a grand jury. People who know nothing about how the justice system works really need to educate themselves before thaey make ridiculous comments. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Too many Law and Order/CSI commenters on here and too few knowledgable commenters.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      How can you defend the sloppy police work they did?

      They never tested Zimmerman for drugs + alcohol, never looked into his arrest record, never ran his fingerprints, never questioned the voracity of his statements, nor took samples of the blood + gun powder burns he was spayed with.
      Give me a break.

      How about the fact that he called 911, 47 times since Jan 1, 2011?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • reggie222

      CJ, police have to arrest him then the DA decides whether or not to file charges...

      March 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey

      CJ – people are blaming the police because they FAILED to investigate anything! Zimmerman said it was self-defence and that was it. Nothing else was done.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. preferred user

    about time

    March 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chimpmaster

    1. When police officers arrived, George Zimmerman had a bloody nose and was bleeding from a wound on the back on his head.
    2. The eyewitness who called 911 said Zimmerman who screamed for help.
    3. The eyewitness also reports that Zimmerman was on the ground and Martin was on top of him beating on him.

    This information was made public by a local Orlando television station on February 27th. We now have 22 days of rampant media reports that omit these facts. Once you see what information the police had, it is obvious why they did not arrest him. They were simply abiding by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Police are now required to have evidence that a shooter was not acting in self-defense.

    How many times have you heard the phrase “Trayvon Martin was a cheerful person,” but you had never heard the words of the eye-witness to the shooting?

    Each time you see a “mainstream” news outlet rant about the Zimmerman/Martin case, ask yourself why these three facts mentioned above are missing from the story. Ask yourself why the media is called Zimmerman a white man instead of a Latino. Ask yourself if you think the story is really news or is it agitation/propaganda designed to advance a political agenda.

    This past weekend in Chicago alone, black and Latino gangbabgers shot 10 people and wounded 40. The youngest fatality is only six years old. This received no national coverage. Why does this one shooting warrant weeks of coverage?
    Chimpmania.com

    March 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      Guess you haven't heard too many of those 911 calls, have you?
      Racist filth.
      See above.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • SafeJourney

      Chimp, you forgot about the two women that said Zimmerman was on top of Trayvon back. You did not think to mention that one did you?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      So what you are saying is that I can follow you in my car, then get out of my car and start chasing you, and if I outrun you and you decide to defend yourself, I can kill you and claim self-defense. How does that sound right?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • MNTaxpayer

      If your account is accurate, it confirms what I always suspected. Most of these conceal and and carry cowboys need a gun because they are wimps. A 17 year old kid beating on a grown man?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Da_truth33

    This Is Real Sad!! Only In White America!!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. RillyKewl

    We finally have the first glimpse of justice on this case. I hope there is a lot more to come.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Learn to Fish

    Only in America, where the race card trumps intelligent conversation.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loyal Northren Democrat

      OJ, Marion Barry, Rodney the thug. All hero's of black america!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mary

    I don't understand how an unarmed child could be a threat to an armed male adult. An adult who had been instructed by a police dispatch staff to NOT follow Trayvon Martin. If the "stand your ground" law applies here, it should have been Trayvon who had legal right to use force. He's walking, Zimmerman follows AND gets out of his car & approaches Trayvon. Had Zimmerman heeded police command and backed off, Trayvon would. Trayvon would be alive today. Zimmerman had more than enough time to get a "suspect" description. He could have followed at a safe distance if he just HAD to follow him (against police orders). The police could have taken over upon arrival. He killed Trayvon and should be held accountable for his actions. An arrest should have been made. Since it wasn't an arrest should be made immediately. The law is being misused;it does not apply to Zimmerman. He murdered Trayvon now it's time to face the law.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loyal Northren Democrat

      1. When police officers arrived, George Zimmerman had a bloody nose and was bleeding from a wound on the back on his head.
      2. The eyewitness who called 911 said Zimmerman who screamed for help.
      3. The eyewitness also reports that Zimmerman was on the ground and Martin was on top of him beating on him.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      He obviously was no threat at all. Zimmerman is a psychopath. Trayvon was carrying Skittles.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jude

      A 6 foot tall, 17 year old football player is NOT a child. A "child" would not be out late at night in the dark and rain, walking in a gated community where he did not live and was not known, wearing a hoodie. This neighborhood had been having problems with "outsiders" coming into the neighborhood to rob homes. The people who answer 911 calls are not the police but rather clerks. The police DID NOT tell Zimmerman to stop following him; a 911 CLERK did. Get your facts straight.

      Read "chimpmaster"'s statement above for more correct information.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sirned

    Interesting that the Churches that always get into politics and social issues are quiet on this... So much for fighting for Gods innocent sheep....

    March 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      Neither was using birth control at the time of the murder.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim D.

      So true. Where is Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson now?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. 77jk

    @Davein SC...You're exactly right!! Because the black man would be in JAIL for shooting n killing a white male...DUH!!!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loyal Northren Democrat

      77jk Not if he was one of Obama's Uncles!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Da_truth33

    Only In White America This Happens!! If It was The Other Way Around He Would Be In Jail!!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sirned

    I have to admit I'm glad we are having a conversation about this country and it's laws. I'm sick to death of always talking and hearing nightly about other countries problems thousands of miles away....We have plenty to deal with here at home

    March 22, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kim

    I think the people of Florida should riot that place is garbage anyway

    March 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Finally

    Good to see a redneck cop with minimal understanding of the law actually held to account for once. This needs to happen more often.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. objecttothis

    So let me get this straight: There's no evidence to contradict the guys story and you want the police to arrest him anyway. Yes, it does "seem" like there is more to this case, but you can't arrest a man which you have no means to prosecute him. Please get over the racial differences here. If you were in the police shoes here you wouldn't be able to arrest him either.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      So you defend the sloppy police work they did?

      Do you realize that the cop never tested Zimmerman for drugs/alcohol, never looked into his arrest record, never ran his fingerprints, never questioned the voracity of his statements, nor took samples of the blood + gun powder burns he was sprayed with.

      How about the fact that he called 911, 47 times since Jan 1, 2011?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      So let me get this straight. I can chase you down, and if I catch you, you can't defend yourself, because if you do I can kill you and claim self-defense? Because there is plenty of evidence that is what happened. Zimmerman was the initial aggressor, Trayvon was acting in self-defense, and got killed for it.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • MNTaxpayer

      Let me ask you this: Is there evidence that the kid pulled the man out of his car? If the man got out and confronted the kid, the man is the agrressor. The kid would be acting in self defense not, not the man.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
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