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. Lee

    This is just "Sign of the Tmes". FoxNews just published an article that the sale of guns are going through the roof. You must read between the lines and understand that the election of President Obama scared a lot of WHITE people. The Republican party is pandering and leader of the racist and haters. The police chief in this case didn't act properly b/c he is a Republican and Tea Partier. Therefore, a Black life doesn't matter.

    A war is brewing and you had better be prepared especially if President Obama win again in 2012. WHITE people all over this country are doing any and everything to POWER GRAB. Pay attention to your local governments and the laws they are passing especially with education. They want to go back to the days of JIM CROW. They want to seperate and build economical fences.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian in dc

      Those bad white people are out to get the black's money and women.

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


      March 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ernie

      And u r on some good drugs yourself from reading your rant and rave

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

      That is definitely the stupidest thing I've read today...

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

      It was a Latino (Zimmerman) who shot Trayvon, so get off the WHITE PEOPLE POWER GRAB $h!t.

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

      FYI: NEWS FLASH!!! The shooter was Hispanic not white. So why is it still a black bd white thing??? That itself sounds racist to me. I agree the kid should not have been shot. It is ridiculous to say the least. But for all throwing the "RACE CARD" if there ever is a race war gues who will win. Answer: no one will win we will all loose and self destruct the American race.

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

      You sir, are a buffoon.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Oh News Flash, Big Texas (little brain)! You can be white and hispanic, or black and hispanic. Hispanic is not a race.

      March 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kurtinco

    What a total a*s*s*h*o*l*e. I hope when he gets shot his agency isn't so distracted the next guy will have to temporarily remove himself, too.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    In the report I read, it states that Zimmerman was bloody when police arrived on-scene.Good.I hope that poor kid at least kicked Zimmermans butt. I think the boy was the one "standing his ground" after being followed, interrogated, attacked and finally shot. In his mind he WAS literally fighting for his life.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cass

    Bob...neighbourhood watch volunteers are NOT supposed to carry weapons. PERIOD. He should have let the police handle it. The poor kid was going to get some candy and gets shot and is heard screaming for help right before hand?? The man shouldn't have shot the kid. He could have held him until police came. He was alone so this was one on one. You can bet this man was bigger than a child of that age too...senseless!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Justice

    It's about time something moved on that police dept. He needs fired and I hope its on its way. The previous Sanford police chief ahd to step down and resign over another racist event. The beating of a homeless black man by his son. Who will replace this chief the Imperial wizard of the clan?

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

    This is what happens when you contract out policing to vigilantes like Zimmerman. The police chief looked the other way with a wink and a nod. Would it have been alright for any person to shoot and kill Zimmerman and say I was standing my ground. After all I do not know who this person is that is following me with a gun. He could be anyone. Perhaps all citizens should be armed for their self defense. Zimmerman was a coward. He knew exactly what he was doing. He is a murderer stalking his prey with the approval of this police department.....

    March 22, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gary D.

    Why should the police chief step aside? He didn't do anything wrong! He had no advance control over some psycho with a gun.

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

      He should be fired because he did NOTHING! He should have arrested the shooter AND THEN done all the investigation. Now the shooter is GONE, there are 911 calls, cell phone records and witnesses who ALL contradict what the shooter said, but the POLICE didn't BOTHER to gather all that evidence!! THAT is why that idiot needs to be fired!

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

      But he was in command when one of his officers "corrected" a witness who said she heard Martin cry for help. The witness was "Corrected" into saying that Zimmerman had called for help.

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

    was there anybody that seen this happen ?

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

    and are spreading hate and FEAR MONGERING!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sirned

    We are in 200 countries and in continuing wars. As McCain pointed out we have a trillion dollar army lets use it. We have the NRA using fear to get people fearing each other to sell guns. People who have paranoid delusions will use them to justify their fears.... Jeb Bush and his family got elected by kissing the NRA and we get stupid laws....And around and around we go....

    March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lars

    I keep reading that Zimmerman wasn't arrested because police "have no evidence to contradict his story." What about evidence to SUPPORT his story??? Where is THAT????? The survivor in a violent encounter like this gets the final word by default. But what about the victim? Only one person was armed and it wasn't the victim. One person gave chase those he was advised not to. It was not the victim. One voice was heard screaming and pleading for help, screams which ended with a gunshot. That WAS the victim! The conduct of the police department in this case is an outrage. Justice has yet to be served. Shame on the entire

    March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Moose2012

    And where is the self-styled, trigger-happy, wanna-be cop (aka vigilante) Zimmerman hiding out these days? The man has vaporized into thin air, and rightly so. I think he has pushed Casey Anthony out of the top spot on the "Most Hated Person in America" list.
    Handled wrongly from the start, and now the retribution is fast and furious. Whole thing REEKED of bad investigation techniques from the start. This shooting was NOT justified by any means, no matter what fable that POS Zimmerman is telling. Sanford PD dropped the ball, and now this murder has snow-balled into a racial issue, which, had it been handled properly from the start, it never would have been.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Piyaski

    why nobody says "Justice for Zimmerman?". He could be right.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Anthony Stark

    They're waiting for you over at Fox News, where the Trayvon Martin story doesn't even make the front page.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Learn to Fish

      Internet much?

      March 22, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jack from Tennessee

    This S.O.B said a distraction..... SMDH!!!! Someone needs to slap the sh-it out of this a$$_hole

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