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. Ron

    Considering he doesn't believe in arresting people for murder; I'd say he should find another career.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ignacio

      The case is still open. Self defense is still a viable option.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jacknyd

      You're another an Idiot,like the rest in here. He did all he could do under the Florida laws ( Florida's deadly force law ) You want him to break the law to justify someone else who supposedly broke the law. You read the laws before posting suck BUNK! Let me Guess, Your Black?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grace

      Racist police chief. He should be working at McD's.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dwayne

      Ron, I agree 100%, and I'm a former Deputy Sheriff. Zimmerman killed the kid in cold blood and it was likely racially motivated – making it a hate crime. Zimmerman needs to be charged (with Murder1, in my opinion), and Chief Lee needs to resign permanantly.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. E Ru

    There is a Demonstration in Indianapolis, IN planned for Monday March 26 from 4:30 to 6:30pm. Link to the FB event page is http://www.facebook.com/events/165885603533130/ or you can search for "Trayvon Martin – Indianapolis Demonstration – We Want Justice!"

    March 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Yaakov

    It's time for this country to ban the NRA. Deport them and send them packing. They are responsible for the killings in the streets, for drug lords and gun violence. They are terrorists and must be destroyed by the ballot.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • jwk1

      Are you saying boyz in hoods are NRA members?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • madrep

      What a ridiculous thing to say! True liberal.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Unknown

      The NRA is responsible? Drug prohibition is the reason for drug gangs existing just like alcohol prohibition created the mafia. Learn your facts before you talk crap.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • sureyado

      YES! and lets ban the EPA, then we wont have all the pollution, and the IRS so we wont have taxes. lets apply lemming logic to everything!!!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      The NRA has nothing to do with this or what peple do with guns. That is just a statement of pure ignorance.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grace

      It's not the NRA...it is the people that use the guns.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arimom

      Actually, the NRA does have a lot to do with this. They are the ones who lobbied to create the "Stand Your Ground" laws for the most part.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dwayne

      Yaakov,
      The NRA isn't the cause of Gangs and Drug Lords – drug prohibition is! If this country would wake up and take Portugals lead in decriminalizing drugs, the drug cartels and drug-funded street gangs would go broke almost overnight. Read some history about substance prohibition (alcohol – U.S. 1930's) and you will see what I mean.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ivana Tinkle

      Shut your hole, jackwagon

      March 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gary

    First Step in the Right Direction towards Justice.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ignacio

      You mean towards racism.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Yo Yo...

    Just resign...the people don't need want you...you are slow to go

    March 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Grace

      He should of left when he lied right away and did not look into it thoroughly.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BOMBO ©

    Did they at least have the decency to give him his ceremonial horns, before they informed him of the vote results?

    March 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy© "I Post Under My Own Name"

      Can't you just picture him in a pretty white suit....with a matching white hoodie?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      @BOMBO ©: Dummy! What ceremonial horns?

      There's a defenseless child MURDERED and buried 6-foot under with his life cut short by a SATAN possessed RACISTS predator, George Zimmerman.

      You're WORSE than the SATAN possessed MURDERER, George Zimmerman himself.

      March 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kensi

    Why should this man step down? Because the kangaroo court of public opinion demands the arrest of someone even though law enforcement has determined that there's no evidence of him having commited any criminal wrongdoing? He is NOT a disgrace. Let the investigators determine what happened and everbody else stay out of it.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • banasy© "I Post Under My Own Name"

      I'll bet you burned a JoePa effigy, didn't you?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mississippi Mama

      Kensi;
      Excuse me but the Court of public opinion does have a stake in the Truth. And if you listen to the 911 tapes you
      will understand why there is a court of public opinion and why people are outraged. More than a Million+ people
      have signed up to protest this travesty. If your way of thinking was correct he would stand by his decision. I
      hope you don't try this with somebody who decides to shoot you and ask questions after the court of public
      opinion forces them to. If he doesn't believe in arresting people he should not be in law enforcement anyway.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy

      Oh please...Florida has messed up guns laws. Right to carry a weapon?

      I am walking down the street and you are walking down the street. I don't like the look of you , I can come after you , I can shoot you and claim self defense? THAT IS HORRIBLE !!!!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ignacio

    Last I checked, he was upholding the law he was sworn to defend. The order to arrest and prosecute would have to come from above his office. Stupid racist people.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      No, because "stand your ground" doesn't even apply here. You can't just chase somebody down, attack them, kill them, and then get off by claiming you were "standing your ground." Allowing somebody to do that isn't upholding the law, it's distorting the law to fit your prejudices on who must be the guilty party.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sirned

    Where's Jeb Bush on his... Hiding like Zimmerman I guess... Cowards always talk tough

    March 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Grace

      You have that right!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Just can't wait for his EVIL brother and illegitimate president, GWB be arrested and put before International Criminal court.

      March 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. palintwit

    This guy has teabagging / birther, redneck trailer trash written all over him. Yeeehaaawwww!!! What time does nascar come on ??

    March 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Yeb I'm glad you SEE that too!

      A REAL closet RACISTS in police uniform. He should be stripped of ALL his benefits.

      March 22, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kathy

    This man is a wimp....

    March 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Robert

    The only person in this scenario who had a right to "stand his ground" was Trayvon ... Zimmerman was pursuing him, in the dark, accosted him without legal authority while branishing a 9mm hand gun ... Trayvon had every right to stand his ground and to meet the assault by Zimmerman with force ... Zimmerman initiated the confrontation and was the aggressor ... Cops are covering for Zimmerman ... would suggest they and their chief have a relationship with Zimmerman that they are trying to protect – on call "confidential informant" any time they need to fabricate probable cause?

    March 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. thom

    Keyword is "temporarily" – wow, next time something happens, I'm going to claim it was self defense and then they can't arrest me. Maybe I could use it in speeding citations, stop sign running or heck, probably a million other ways. Doesn't our state legislature, Governor and law enforcement officials see a problem with the precedent that was set?

    March 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. blursd

    It is beyond belief that in a non-relation homicide the surviving party would not be detained and questioned at police headquarters, and held until after all the evidence had been processed. The only thing the Sanford Police Department did was ask Zimmerman a few questions at the scene, take some picture, and let him go on his merry way ... after shooting a teenager.

    I'm sorry, but the entire police response has not only been incompetent, but downright negligent ...

    March 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Damian

    Nothing worse than crooked cops.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      Oh yes there is: people like you with an I of Zero, but thanks for someone had to set the low end.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grace

      It's not wonder people don't trust them anymore.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
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