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. militaryvet

    Well since you chose not to let people reply to you directly MISSSSSS Alice im sure that you are reading the comments. The reason is NOT why people respond to black on black crime and not hollaring racism all the time it is in FACT when a black person is killed and the person in CHARGE of making decisions and doing his job is white and does NOTHING about it!!!!!!!!!! then it is racism i dont care what race you are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! now you go somewhere and stop worrying about why WE are whinning!!!!!!! find you some busness

    March 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Da_truth33

      I Agree!!

      March 22, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paula Denmon*

      I agree. I'm a white 65 yr old Texan who finds this deplorable racism & profiling.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Da_truth33

    He Hard Being Black In This Country!!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sirned

    And another stupid law is a NRA membership card without a photo allows you to vote but you can't vote without any other ID without a photo...Gee I wonder why Republicans are pushing this law....

    March 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Da_truth33

    Loyal Northren Democrat,your dumb as u might look!! get a life,it's ppl like u that makes this country like it is!!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Da_truth33

    Loyal Northren Democrat, u need to be locked up,u sound very dumb!!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Logic

    All I hear is hate. Stop with the hate people for a little while at least.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Da_truth33

      logic,It Became Hate When That Young Man Got Killed!! Your a Little To Late To Be Asking For This To Stop!! This Country Is Very Racist.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jo Jo

    For those of you who say this so called police chief did his job, what a bunch of crock! As "police chief", (the highest ranking officer) how do you go to the scene of a crime; see a skinny young kid dead and lying face down on the ground next to some skittles, ice tea and a cell phone; look at the shooter who is twice (if not three times) the kid's size holding a weapon and conclude "self defense"? Then to add insult to injury by running a background, drug and alcoholic test on the "victim" but not on the shooter, which says to me, this chief was looking for any trumped up reason to justify why this kid deserved to be killed. He should have stepped down a long time ago. Now, where is the shooter? He should want to be in the custody of those who are protecting him. Better jail than an angry mob!

    March 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. leeintulsa

    the police could have taken him in to 'protect' him. he should have been taken in, plain and simple. i'm taking it they totally lost any forensic evidence Z might have had on him? morons.. they all need to go.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Da_truth33

    In White America It's Ok To Kill Black Kids But Not Ok To Kill Dogs!!!!

    March 22, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John P

    If Zimmerman and Trayvon were "fighting" and then he shot in "self defense", where is the blood splatter on his hands and clothes? Didn't the investigating/forensic team not do calculations and use blood splatter patterns, witness testimony, and such to re-create the crime scene?

    Oh wait. I forgot. It wasn't a "crime". smh.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. disgusted

    First and foremost my respects to the Martin family on the loss of their son. The reason why this has escalated as it has is because we as citizens of this country have a right to protest and do not have to accept things as they are presented to us. We have the right to ask questions inquire and demand our rights are protected no matter the color of our skin.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Racism will never end

    It's amazing how people post racist comments on here when the bottomline is that he was a young man who did not deserve what happened to him. Wheather he was black, white, asian or whatever else it is sad but the way it was handled makes it demeaning, disgusting and down right offensive. Somebody lost thier child and you guys on here talking like this discussion is about some animal.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Da_truth33

      Your Right It Will Never End!! I Say This All The Time Race Always Plays a Role!!

      March 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Victoria

      This is about fear and ignorance. Please stop generalizing about whites and blacks. This needs to be investigated further, and it sounds like it will be now that the feds are on it. An over-zealous wannabe was out patrolling with a gun and overstepped (to say the least!) his boundaries and shot an innocent young man . It is a tragedy and he needs to be punished. Let's tone down the racist rhetoric and work to prevent another travesty like this from occuring.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Da_truth33

    Loyal Northren Democrat,you need your ass kick!!

    March 22, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim D.

      Great idea. Go ahead and do it so he can kill you in Self Defense too...
      The ignorance you display on this board is astounding. It's no wonder people are racist. Who would support any of the babble you throw out here. Try something constructive instead of just being a troll...

      March 22, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Marcia J.

    I read some of the posts earlier, some people should be ashamed of themselves. A young boy with his whole life ahead of him was gunned down in cold blood and the killer hasn't been arrested. This could be anyone's child. My heart and sympathy goes out to Trayvon's family. Hopefully, justice will be served.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. thomas


    This bigot flat out lied about the case to cover up a racial execution. He's been telling the press that Zimmerman didn't even know the kid was black, when in fact he clearly stated he was black on the 911 call!

    March 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
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