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.

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soundoff (480 Responses)
  1. TvNyC

    straight up....put this jew and jail and get it over with

    March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DANIEL MOHR

    They should request. That the police cheif resign period and have the stand your ground poliicy abolished

    March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ted Ryder

      Yeah...what he said! Then criminals will be able to run wild. Is this what blacks want? You have to be kidding me.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TonyAtlanta

    Chief Lee need to be fire not temp step aside..This is disgrace to america I am ashame of the country I was born.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Capt. GJW

      Not so easy for you to say.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tryscience

    Here's a thought experiment: say there was a struggle and Trayvon (in self-defense) got the gun off Zimmerman and shot him dead. Who would be in jail?

    March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Heres a thought experiment – why dont we stick to the facts!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      great point.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeb Bush

    "and understand that the election of President Obama scared a lot of WHITE people"

    Oh shut up.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. someone

    at least this is hitting the national debate now. Hopefully something useful will come of it, and corrupt police departments like Sanford will realize they can't get away with protecting murderers. Lock this "police chief" up right next to Mr. Zimmermann, I'd say. Let them share a cell.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ROBERT

    THE Police Chief should step aside because the man was not arrested. They accepted his story that it was self-defense???....when he had a gun and the other man didn't ?...when he initiated the entire confrontation ?...no one
    has the right to do what Zimmerman did. He should be in prison

    March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Carol

    Stepping as temporarily is not good enough for me. He needs to be fired and replaced with someone who has integrety(if that's possible)>

    March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Alex

    Please explain Zimmerman's nose bleed, head injuries and the grass on his back. Also Trayvon's 10 days school suspension. Why the first witness told the Police he saw Zimmerman on the ground and Trayvon over him? Now consider Florida's Law

    March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RillyKewl

    How can any of 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 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • RillyKewl

      *sprayed*

      March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. High Hopes

    Sanford Sherrif Steps Down…

    😀

    HIP, HIP HOORAY!!!!!

    .

    Justice for Trayvon Martin!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. imadime

    i have to say that i don't necessarily jump to the conclusion that law enforcement in this case was overtly racially motivated. (and i am african american, so don't dismiss my perspective as ignorant). all evidence seems to point to the fact that zimmerman CERTAINLY was racially motivated in his hunting down and murder of trayvon martin. at the end of the day, in my humble opinion, bill lee and sandford law enforcement just bungled the investigation, period. i don't THINK they did it because trayvon was black...especially because there must be at least one black officer, if not more, in that department who would stand up for the boy if that were the case, and what is in it for them to try to protect zimmerman, who clearly seems unstable? that said, i think history shows that the lost lives of african americans IN GENERAL don't receive the same amount of attention from law enforcement or the media as those of white americans. i don't think this department made a patent decision not to pursue the case because the victim was black, i think it's just bad police work, and warrants lee's stepping down at this point.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ﺶCHEﺶ

    This Police RACIST should have been FIRED and thrown in JAIL for DECEIT, cover up, dishonesty etc. etc. on the spot. As dumb as this Police RACIST is; how can he even find a job or appointed a police chief dept? His spokesman claims that he's inexperience on the job and hence he should be forgiven.
    That's crap and BS! The usual DUMB, incompetent, unqualified white man on the job.

    RACISTS! It was a SATAN possessed MURDERER with Gun -vrs- Kid with 12 oz. Ice-Tea and a Bag of Candy facing home.
    Yeb, Trayvon stole the candy from 711 as claimed by some RACISTS websites.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rick01

    Now is the time for a warrant for Zimmerman's arrest.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bob

    "My role as the leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation …." Lee said during a news conference" – No, actually its your failure to investigate that has become a distraction from the investigation....

    March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
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