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.

soundoff (480 Responses)
  1. Floyd from Ilinois

    There's a dead unarmed kid and a 'nieghborhood watch' who shouldn't have been armed, and who was warned off from following the victim, who killed him, and a polcie department that didn't see anything strange about any of this.

    If this doesn't warrant outside investigation, nothing does.

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

      I agree. There is something so fishy about this story. If police told him to stop, then what the heck. He obviously went against what the cop's said. Smell corruption here.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • SandyB

      Very well said, and I agree wholeheartedly!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Troll so hard Mods wanna Ban Me

    what an excuse from the police chief, LOL.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Water

    Zimmerman face look so dump to be a neighborhood watch leader. Did the community check his back ground before hire him? Don't waste tax money to put Zimmerman in the prison. let Zimmerman die same same Marin die. About the Lee, should fire him permanent. He is very racist, big fat guy.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DaveinSC

    This is really bad that a civil servant must step down from his job just because this kid was killed. He did not pull the trigger> This would not be happening if this kid had been white and shot by a black man, plain and simple. It appears that every from of racism is still worming strong in this pathetic country.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    Has anyone even checked to see if George Zimmerman is still breathing? Has he even stepped outside his home for fresh air since this unravelled?

    March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loyal Northren Democrat

      Yes. Look outside your window.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sherrie, shut up stupid

    Sherrie, when will you learn that racists such as yourself will always lose. Look at history to learn something on the matter.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tnmitche5

    Drug and alcohol test were performed on Martin but not Zimmerman? No background test ran on Zimmerman at the time of the shootin, but one was ran on Martin. Selective investigating is not good for anyone.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Loyal Northren Democrat

    The sheriff did not make the law that was passed. Those who say he screwed the investigation do not know what was done. Just another round of black mob lynch fever to try and get some free shopping days in town so they can steal and steal.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dee

    I notice some people saying he did this in self defense. Everything I have read say's this kid only had skittles and a tea. How can that be in self defense? Anyone???

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

    Well, I think the investigation stopped prematurely. I think the self-defense law FL has gave the PD reason to think they could do this and not do their work properly. I think the shooter should have been processed as any one would have been, as well as the weapons involved. Are we sure the PD didn't do that? If they didn't, then it is more of an outcry than what we think. That is scary to think, regardless of who was shot, that the shooter wasn't taken in, questioned thoroughly, held/detained until all questioning and background screening was made, etc. If no background check had been done, this man could have a long list of transgressions that were never identified. Those answers needed to be sought and given to the victim's family. Were they? I assume they were not, otherwise the PD would be saying we checked the shooter's background, etc. etc. But they didn't say that. They said they had no grounds based on the FL self defense law. Did the story corroborate with witnesses within hearing distance? No, it doesn't seem so. Did the 911 call corroborate the shooter's story? Not entirely, otherwise when the shooter said "Okay," when instructed to quit following the victim, there would not have been a fatality. Zimmerman responded, "Okay," when told not to follow the young man. That tells me the story was not investigated thoroughly and that he had a certain 'vigilante,' rather than self-defense mind-set. So, so sad that this man perpetrated a crime rather than prevented one. And what's more, the PD seems to have dropped the ball prematurely, and it only claiming to be doing anything now because of the outcry.

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

    how come theres no outrage over the two black teens in Kansas City that dowsed a white kid in gasoline and set him on fire, ON HIS OWN FRONT PORCH, while saying "you get what you diserve , white boy." where is the media coverage on that story. why is racism always one sided.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • CA

      zZwilhelmZz, were the kids prosecuted? Were they arrested and questioned? Were they taken to trial? Or did they get off on a self-defense claim? I doubt it. This story is not comparable. This man wasn't arrested or accused of murder. The 2 kids in KC, I believe, were held accountable.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • DaveinSC

      That does not make news because it does not promote the pathetic liberal agenda. Now if the white kid had been G A Y then all he ll would have broken loose.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loyal Northren Democrat

      Because blacks are the most racist. Look how they started the slave trades of their neighbors to the arabs thousands of years ago.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • CeeLoGreen

      That's terrible... Maybe u should contact your local media outlets to get that pushed.Question: Were these two black teens arrested and charged?
      Because what also sparks such outrage is the manner in which this cases was handled by the police chief. Thiis man stood over a teenager and shot him while he was on the ground, face down... And the police chief let him leave w/o asking him any questions and allowed him to leave WITH THE WEAPON.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. SandyB

    The media is constantly playing audio of a phone conversation and the 911 call and we clearly get to hear the gun discharge. I haven't heard anything to indicate the child threatened him. Except maybe in Zimmerman's imagination. It just doesn't add up and the least the police could do would be to let a grand jury decide. Why is he not being charged as misrepresenting himself (the citizen's watch program wasn't legitimate) and carrying a concealed handgun while representing this bogus group. I'm thoroughly outraged at the injustice of it all!. When did it get to the point where a person can declare himself a "watch" person and then go popping off people for sport.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rickp530

    Glad to see the police chief stepping down. I feel he should quit and persue another career. He's clearly shown that he does not know how to lead.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Greg M

    The citizens of Sanford will not be safe until the police chief and all the officers involved in this case are permanently removed from the force and replaced by properly trained and qualified personnel. A grand jury should decide if anyone should be charged with dereliction of duty or any related offense.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Loyal Northren Democrat

      Yea, have everyone all step down at once. Leave it to the nigra tennis shoe wearning crack dealers to run everything.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Troll so hard Mods wanna Ban Me

    what an "excuse", ROFL

    March 22, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
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