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. Msknozit

    The resolution is simple, Arrest this child murdering fool so that we can all move on!

    March 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Da_truth33

    Jim D. i'm not worry one bit about that,you can go somewhere and sit your ass down!!!

    March 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Da_truth33

    Jim D. how about i use selfdefense on yourself it's ppl like u why this country is like this!!

    March 22, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dennis Smith

    You are much more than a distraction. You are part and parcel to the problem. Just arrest the murderer for Christ sake!

    March 22, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. EB

    As a conceal carry instructor and I also have license to carry I dont understand why this guy is not arrested.Based on my learnings when a conceal carry person is force to protect themselves they are always arrested until such time as an investigation is done and they are released for using good judgement for selfdefense or charged.Why does a neighbor hood watch personal need nto be carrying a gun?If the area is infested in crime shouldnt it be the police department who show a strong present even if you have neighbor watch,it is what it is a person watching out for crimes in the area and notifying the police. Make an arrest and investigate get it over with.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™

      Haha! Very funny. The police are a bunch of lazy slobs. They will come and write the report. After you are dead. Americans must have the right to protect themselves. So why do you need a concealed carry?

      March 22, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™

      And if the fat lazy police were patrolling the area maybe this young man would still be alive.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paula Denmon*

      EB. Your points are valid. The police told the shooter not to follow the young man. He did not obey their order. I understand that neighborhood watches are required to follow police orders. He should have been held in jail during investigation just for that. Not allowed to walk. I find the police to be highly in error.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™


      Like I said, "fat lazy slobs" who come and take the report. After you are dead. And they can't even do that right.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. 1608

    Welcome to the third world

    March 22, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bubba™

    Billy-lee for President !! 🙂

    March 22, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tony

    Funny how people posting here keep saying it was a fight before he shot this kid.Don't forget the 1st police report did not mention a fight. It was conviently added to the second report. They say Zimmerman had a bloody nose and grasd on his back but where is the pictures or evidence of this. Should we just go by the white police word for it. Yeah we all know how honest they are.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paula Denmon*

    We all demand justice and laws that protect children. Not ones that put them in more danger. The very fact that some law. Stand and defend is in effect with children is absurd. BTW: Vote Democratic. Let's get rid of this mentality.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. tony

    Don't forget Big George in Big D who was the first race to make wearing hoods famous.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™

      Yeah. And it was acceptable for them or not?

      March 22, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. edeveryday

    The police chief "steps down" temporarily in order to pacify the black community and show them that something is being done. He does this at the request of the mayor and the rest of the politicians and big business owners in the city. They are making the police chief the scapegoat. This is done to show the black community that the city is not ignorng their outrage and protests. The mayor, the politicians and the big business owners are clearly worried that the blacks are going to pull another "Rodney King" "L.A. Riots" number like they did in Los Angeles. They know the blacks are capable of and would actually relish the idea of rioting, looting, and setting fire to the city at the drop of a hat and they don't want that to happen. There is a large segment of the black community and the "thousands of protestors" that couldn't care less about the black kid that got shot. They are only interested in a good ol' fashion 7 to 14 day riot, arson and looting session. These blacks are bored and they haven't had one in a while and they feel it's long overdue. These blacks are hoping to intimidate the city and the local police force and justice department into "carrying out justice" according to their rules, but in the back of the minds of a lot of the 1000's of protestors is the excitement of a good 7 to 14 day riot, looting and arson session. The blacks are using the claim of racism and the threat of riots in order to get their way. This has proven successful in the past. They either get "justice" or they pull another flash mob number on a large scale. Don't kid yourself, a large segment of the black community is only interested in "getting some free stuff" and "stirring up some s__t." while they're doing it. They aren't really interested in justice for the kid at all. That's just an excuse.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      @edeveryday, aka part of the problem, aka uncle rush: so explain to me now the white outrage..

      it's quite impressive, your ability to read black minds.. just wondered if you could read white ones, too.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Justin

      You are so full of crap, do you even read anything you say before you post it? if you havent been looking at who's been sharing this, it hasn't been JUST blacks, you're one of the ignorants who turn things into color. When is the last time blacks have overtaken a city and "rioted" just to riot? Remember when the one black guy got executed last year after he was proven innocent? you had black protestors everywhere, but was there one riot? no, there wasn't. Its ignorant people like you who come here and just talk to hear yourself talk. All of your comments scream ignorance.

      March 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. edeveryday

    The people that are submitting their comments and arguing back and forth about whether a crime or injustice was committed are missing the underlying motive for the protest. Blacks young and old are being shot and killed every week in the big cities by other blacks and blacks never bother to make an issue of it unless a white person or police officer is involved in the shooting. This shows you that the blacks are less concerned about the victims and more concerned about the perpetrator if he happens to be a police officer or he's white. This is when they all jump on board and start to protest. As I said before, blacks will never pass up a good opportunity to "justifiably" get involved in a good ol' fashion riot, arson or looting session for a week or two. It is one of their favorite past times and something like this shooting incident provides the perfect opportunity. Trust me.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Darius

    I believe that the reason why but not exclusively most Americans are sickened by this atrocity is because he (Trayvon) may also remind us of a young Barack. Love our America

    March 23, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      You're kidding right?

      The first President to have his mother- in- law move into the white house. I guess you call her the first grandlady? So the most powerful man still has his mother-in-law living with him. lol 🙂

      March 23, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. Greek American

    If this Zimmerman hick doesn't go to jail for the rest of his life or get the death penalty, then I will lose any remaining confidence that I barely have in our justice system. Good luck Sanford, you will become the next LA after Rodney King if you let this guy get away with this obvious murder of an innocent person, regardless of what race anyone is.

    March 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pete

    Most of these GATED communities really don't need the gates,just a fancy selling point.If the police started the community watch,then the police train,and are ultimately responsible for the volunteers background check and guide lines that they work under.So as I see it ,the Sanford police department is responsible for Trayvons death.He didn't follow procedures set forth to become a watch volunteer.Police ,use the people ,not because of crime,but because it releases officers for other things related to their work and its cost savings to the tax payers,a political selling point.Zimmerman was a loose cannon waiting to explode,too bad Trayvon was his victim...

    March 23, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
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