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. sir_ken_g

    Take your racism and go home
    Or better to jail.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheTruthHurts

      Had Mr. Zimmerman shot a blond, white teenager instead you can be certain Mr. Zimmerman would already be sitting in the electric chair.

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

      This case is hardly racist .It seems everytime a black person is killed its racial but when a white person is killed by a black man you hear nothing.Grow up and quit your crying.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ArtInChicago

    Step before you get pushed aside.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    How silly am I, I always thought that suspects were tried by those with law degrees, NOT journalism degrees and GED's.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • SV

      And I thought that Ultrasounds should be recommended by doctors to their patients and not GOP law makers.

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

      And in this case, the suspect isn't being tried at all. he told a cop that it was self defense and that was that. The person who he shot didn't offer any disagreement with that statement, so it must be true.

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

      i think that's part of the problem. apparently the police, who frequently don't have law degrees, tried and found the shooter innocent. personally i believe they should have arrested him on the spot and let a jury decide whether he met the "stand your ground" qualification.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Big George in Big D

    I have to laugh at the million man hoodie march. That realy goes a long way toward ending stereo-typing.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • NYC

      You're obviously ignorant. It was a demonstration proving that he was murdered because he was stereotyped due to his dress. Thats why blacks and whites both wore hoodies proving how you're dressed doesn't justify murder.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • kayaker247

      how do you figure? I'm a white architect, I wear a hoodie sometimes walking around my neighborhood.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • BIG C IN BIG NY

      Yeah....especially if you participate is steretyping too.....Get your head out of your ass CHICKEN GEORGE!

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

      You obviously didn't get it, that's why they wore the hoodie to show how ignorant people profile people. What they was trying to say, since all of us are wearin hoodies, we are all guilty ????? Also in memory of Trayvon. Duh

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

      What exactly is funny about the million hoddie march? I dont believe it was neccessarily to end stero typing, but rather keep the movement moving.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. melinda

    Temporarily remove himself? For what? So he doesn't take the fall of HIS Department not handling a MURDER the correct way! Seriously? April 10th! Get it together people! This child lost his life FEBRUARY 26 at the hands of a wanna be cop and he is walking the streets- while the parents mourn the loss of their son and America gets to sit back and swallow it because certain people are NOT strong enough to stand up and do something about this tragedy- Grow some balls Sanford Police Department.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vetta

      I agree with you 100%

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

      he needs to take the fall. The baseball team doesn't fire the players, they fire the manager.

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

    "Police say they have not charged Zimmerman because they have no evidence to contradict his story that he shot in self-defense,"

    you know why they don't have any evidence because they didn't look for any evidence! they came out, saw the child was black and the shooter was white and they took his word for it. They didn't take his gun to process it, nor did they process him. I thought that was standard procedure when someone is killed, but i guess not. IF you can get out of your car and go find someone walking and shoot them and claim you were defending yourself, what's going to stop everyone else from doing that? If he had remained in his vehicle and not went after Trayvon like the dispatcher advised him to do. That young man would still be alive and none of this would be going on. He racially profiled him, called him a racial slur (to the police dispatcher no less) and then went found him, confronted him, and killed him. This was not self defense and he justice must be served!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ernie

      Ah tina....if you look at Zimmerman I don't he looks white as you say

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

      Seriously????? Have you even bothered to keep up with the story or do you just want to jump on the "race" wagon?? The shooter was HISPANIC!!!! And they say that white people are racist!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mickey

      Exactly. Leaving aside the evidence that so far shows Zimmerman went after this young man, even if the shooter claims self-defence, shouldn't the police take the shooter into custody, process him, the gun, the scene, the victim and from that determine if the shooter's story holds up? The police showed up, Zimmerman claims self-defence, and that's it?!!!!!! That is what is wrong with this scenario people that support Zimmerman. His story is believed, but the young man that is dead gets no story. As soon as the police discovered the boy was armed with those highly dangerous Skittles, they should have taken Zimmerman into custody.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan Mason

      The shooter was hispanic and white. Get your facts straight.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ernie

    Ah once again the mob reigns.......the heck with following the law or procedure....do what the mob wants so we can be politically freaken correct

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

      Spot on Ernie. This is such an embarrassement for a supposedly civilized society.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • imadime

      OR...so that the murderer of an innocent child can be brought to justice. i guess your perspective on the rationale behind this–whatever that perspective is–can say a lot about you.

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

      I don't think blindly following a law that, in this case, has so blatantly been shown to be flawed, is the answer. And frankly, it scares me that anyone in this country advocates it.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I'm pretty sure that's what democracy is.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don

      shooting unarmed people IS civilized? That's a coward where I come from.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • GomezAddams

      David – I think it's pretty embarrassing to misspell "embarrassment".

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

      hmm Ernie did the Sanford police do what they was supposed to do???? Normally if some one kills someone, they INVESTIGATE not take someone word!!!!!!

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

    "My role as the leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation …." Lee said during a news conference.

    Should have said "My lack of leadership of this agency...."

    March 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. LOL!

    I love how people applauded at the end of the announcement.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. David

    Already people are getting hurt over this. People are using this as away to attack others. Very sad, when all evidence leads to self defense, but people just do not want to accept that, even if it is the truth. I stand behind Bill Lee one hundred percent, and I hope he sues the hell out of Sanford for this terrible injustice.

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

      Already people are getting hurt over this???? What type of stupid are you? An innocent child was killed! There is already plenty of hurt. Tell you what, let someone shoot you or your child and not even get arrested... then we will worry about the police chief getting "hurt" by it.... unbelievable

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

      @NYC. Why should more people pay a price, because you are not happy about the outcome? Right now, nothing in this case has changed, it still looks like self defense. Why should people have to step down, because people like yourself say so... Because you think every one should pay a for this. Your hatred has overwhelmed you, and now logic escapes you... Please cool off, before you hurt some one.

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

      And what evidence is that exactly? The shooter (who sounds intoxicated on those 911 tapes) said so?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Essie

      @David...you are a sad individual! I think you're upset because you think, "how dare those blacks stand up to us!" Well, David, STEP OFF because you've just been STEPPED ON & STEPPED OVER!!!!! That era is GONE!!!!!!!

      March 22, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paula

    Interesting to say the least.....................

    March 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Guest

    A tragedy turned into a witch hunt. People should focus on the two people involved and not turn into mob mentality.

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

    "My role as the leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation …." Lee said during a news conference.
    WHAT INVESTIGATION?!?!!

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

      Thank you!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Yaakov

    The "Stand Your Ground" law is barbaric and we see its results in this wanton execution, a result of the insidious influennce of the NRA terorrist lobby. Cleanse the country of this nazi filth or you will have more of these killings and executions. Give the NRA a taste of their own medicine and wipe them out, starting withtheir fuhrers

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

      you're totally clueless....absolutely uneducated in the way of defending one's self.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mr big pants

    Of course they have nothing to contradict Zimmerman's story because the person who COULD contradict it was SHOT by a gun toting Neighborhood Watchman who was TOLD by the police to NOT follow the suspect. Zimmerman did not follow police orders and now a innocent 17 yo boy is dead.

    Zimmerman (from what I heard on the news) has a history of making needles phone calls to police (paranoia is a sign of drug use)

    March 22, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      The 911 dispatcher can only suggested not to follow, but being part of neighborhood watch allows him to observe. If they could have used that, even the Feds would have arrested Zimmerman by now. In public, which this was, you have the right to observe, just ask any celebrities about that....

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