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)

    Humm, seems to me that the victim was the one defending himself against an overzealous wanna-be cop. Maybe thats why Zimmerman had a injury to his head, because the boy was fighting for his life against a man with a gun.

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

      Hmm – and you have some kind of special access to all the evidence gathered so far, I presume...

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


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

    I think it's kinda shicken chit of him to 'temporarily step aside.' He should man up and deal with the issue.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Grace

    Face it people. Florida is messed up.

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

      yes it is.

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

    Black people are the MOST RACIST people on earth!!! Why is the "white" man being blamed for this shooting??? You morons need to READ....the shooter is hispanic! I guess it's only "acceptable" when black people shoot each other! This goes on EVERY SINGLE DAY in "da hood"! But let you people think a White man shot a black person! We's gonna get up a march and call it a Million Hoodie March because we so mistreated! GET OVER YOURSELVES!!!!!

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

      Being hispanic is an ethnicity not a race. You can be white as a Hispanic or black.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boes73

      Please tell me that you are just joking by making such ludicrous statements. Use a dictionary if you don't understand what I am saying.

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

      Because some white are racists and the others are to scare to stand up. You kill us and expect us to just get over it. Well, were are not.

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

      Zimmerman's father is White.

      He was raised by his White father.

      He most certainly shares his White father's values and principles.

      Like his father.....Zimmerman is a White, outh Floridian.

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

      "Hispanic" is an ethnicity, not a race. Additionally, the police officer who took the report, put his race as white. Feel free to continue your uninformed rant based in ignorance.

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

      "Black people are the MOST RACIST people on earth."

      Prove it.

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

      Thanks for your comments. Please report on here when you lose a love on and let us know how quickly you got over yourself. This happens to all races.

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

      @Sherrie...for the record, the man is a WHITE Hispanic. THIS BEHAVIOR SPECIFICALLY does NOT go on every day in 'da hood", and if you still believe that it does, then how do YOU know? DO YOU, or better yet, HAVE YOU EVER lived in 'da hood'? There is NO EXCUSE for the actions of "Mr Zimmerman', as well as YOUR IGNORANT MOCKERY. Until and ONLY UNTIL you EXPERIENCE FIRST HAND a GLIMPSE of what Trayvon Martin went through (i,e, profiling, racial epithets being thrown, etc) you will NEVER understand. No, YOU get over YOURSELF!

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

      You are an idiot

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

      Don't generalize or assume. Shut up, learn to use proper grammar and move on.

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

      Sherie, please go back to school you ignorant fat white lady, hispanic is not a race you dumb woman, before you open you fat white mouth to speak, please get your facts straight! thank you and have a great day!

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

      Blacks aren't the most racist people. History proves it. It doesnt matter what his ethnicity; he killed an unarmed boy. Black killng black hispanics killing hispancis, white killing white, and etc. This is an unjstified homicide.Imagine it was your child or relative but another race. It doesn't make right. You would be upset, too.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • anti-racist man

      Sherrie<-- anytime you say "you people" in reference to a race of people i.e. generalizing or stereotyping , your an automatic racist and possibly have little to no education. The fact is that a child was murdered and nothing was done about it!! That wouldn’t have happened in the US if the child was from a different economic, geographic, or ethnic background. Nuff Said!

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


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

      I understand your point full heatedly, believe me i do but you must realize that comments like that dont make the situation any better. Mocking us like that is childish. Racial issues will continue until everyone lets them go. That means both sides.....

      The fact of the matter is racism is still around, you can see it just by looking on the internet , online gaming, and in everyday life. So until that stops nothing else will.

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

      Actually Sherrie if you were the one reading the story then you should already know that the news media has been reporting Zimmerman is WHITE. It has just been recently that his family and friends have come forward to say that he is hispanic. So, who is the moron???? In fact it is people like you that keep the racial tension going and you are a disgrace! No matter what color anyone is we are all still children of God! And this CHILD did not deserve to die like this! I pray you never fall victim to a sensless crime,......

      March 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JD

    Lee, you are a dope.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. LolDems

    It's clear the true racists are those drawing racist conclusions and judging without evidence. The angry left dictates political correct behavior and the irresponsible LeftyLibDem media misrepresents the facts. So pumped and primed for another racist action, they barely hesitated when learning Zimmerman is Hispanic. But he's a WHITE hispanic and he killed a black...ergo racism. And, no surprise, they claim the WHITE police chief didn't investigate the matter thoroughly enough. What an example of racist hypocrisy. As if the LeftyLibDem media ever investigates thoroughly and constrain theirselves to reporting facts. Their agenda rule the reporting. Ready, fire, aim!

    March 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boes73

      Loldems: your hatred for the left is completely clouding what little judgement you ever possessed.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Retired Army

    He needs to just quit.

    What a pathetic excuse for a leader.

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

    Police chief is a coward. if nothing wrong was going on in your department, then why are you running?

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

    I understand the stand your ground part of the law, but you can't tell me it's really ok to shoot somebody because you are losing the fight you started. He chased the kid down, the kid probably thought it was self defense to fight the guy off, and now the aggressor gets off claiming self defense.

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

    Don't quit your post, just arrest the guy and get on with it..what's the big deal here? Or is there more to hide here

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

    Sorry, that's not enough. Your resignation, please. You couldn't hear him say a blatant racial slur in the 911 tapes and you thought a bag of skittles was enough for "reasonable defense.". It's time for you to go.

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

    You guys are sick. He (the chief) was following the law and standard procidures and now he has been forced out of his position. Why on EARTH is it that it becomes racist if the one shot happens to be black?

    March 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack from Tennessee

      Because if the victim was lets say white.. and the shooter was lets say black, He would already be jailed not on the streets... Hopefully you can understand now.. Geesh!!!

      March 22, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boes73

      whta: I agree that this may not be racist (contrary to what is written on this board). But I think you have a nutcase who did kill someone in cold blood and he is getting away with it. I am not sure if it's the dumba_s law or the police being incompetent on this one.

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

      Because you just can't go around chasing and shooting people because you think the are bad because of the skin color. Are you just that that stupid.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jack from Tennessee

    ZZZZZZZimmmerman where are you???????

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

    What many people don't know is these small town P.D.s hire men who have paid to go to a so called police academy. Then these men put out resumes. I went to so and so police academy, I can do the job. They are taught the basics. The very basics. Primarily it's Ego and haircuts. Therefore you are not going to get the results you would with a larger well trained police dept. Who is there to train their dectives? No one. You learn more watching Humphery Bogart in an old Sam Spade movie. Be careful out there people. Good thing the FBI is handling some of it.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. communicator1453

    Unfortunately, the Stand Your Ground Law is not unique to Florida. Several other states have the same law or a variant of it. I remember thinking we'd become the Wild Wild West when Florida passed this law under Jeb Bush. I'm not sure how much we've come to resemble that era, but it you took a statistical sampling of shootings in that era and compared it with our own, I have to wonder if we'd be any better if not worse. Honestly, I think the Wild Wild West never went away.

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