Sanford, Florida Police Chief Temporarily Steps Down

The embattled police chief at the center of a fatal neighborhood watch shooting temporarily stepped down Thursday, saying he had become a distraction to the investigation.

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee has been heavily criticized after his officers decided not to arrest George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot an unarmed black teen to death on Feb. 26.

"As a former homicide investigator, a career law enforcement officer and a father, I am keenly aware of the emotions associated with this tragic death of a child. I'm also aware that my role as a leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation," Lee said.

The shooting has sparked several protests, and city commissioners gave the chief a "no confidence" vote on Wednesday night.

Zimmerman claims the shooting was self-defense. He told police 17-year-old Trayvon Martin attacked him after he had given up on chasing the teenager and was returning to his sport utility vehicle.

The police chief has said authorities were prohibited from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time of the shooting. He said he continued to stand behind his agency's investigation.

"I must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford. I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks," he said. "It is my hope that the investigation will move forward swiftly and appropriately through the justice system and that a final determination in this case is reached."

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  • by Tony Location: Roper on Mar 23, 2012 at 01:15 AM
    Race was and still is an issue in the United States and the World. Why was Martin Luther King killed? We say we have come a long way and yet we still have even further to go. Just don't come back,human life is worth more than your job!!!!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 08:40 AM in reply to Tony
      Race is only an issue because if it was not, some people would never have anything to hide behind.
  • by Tim Location: La Grange on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:42 PM
    There are two sides to every story. I'm amazed that fat Albert hasn't gone into one of his Don Imus induced "needs to be fired" tirades.
  • by BLOUNT Location: Wville on Mar 22, 2012 at 07:28 PM
    I learned from this case that 86% of Hispanics/Latinos are White. So why does Rev Al call Mexicans people of color?
  • by billings Location: gville on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:46 PM
    Zimmerman is Hispanic and he killed a Black...can't those 2 communities just get along?
  • by Sam Location: Kitty Hawk on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:30 PM
    I don't know about the whole story but I do know that Lavon needs to go down to Florida if he wants the chief arrested so bad. He needs to stay in Florida after that. Thoughts and prayers go out to everybody involved.
  • by finger on the trigger of a .357 Location: the streets on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:42 PM
    If a 6"3" male, of any skin color, with a hood over his head gets too close to me, his chances of getting shot will increase significantly due to his choice of attire. Hoodies may be "cool" to some but they can get you killed.
    • reply
      by a 357 may be cool, but it will get you killed on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:32 PM in reply to finger on the trigger of a .357
      Problem is, the child did not approach him, he approached the child. And if you shot an unarmed child of mine, you will not need to be arrested, you can count on it!
      • reply
        by rogelio on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:47 PM in reply to a 357 may be cool, but it will get you killed
        I have read that zimmerman was beaten badly. 1. When police officers arrived, George Zimmerman had a bloody nose and was bleeding from a wound on the back on his head. 2. The eyewitness who called 911 said Zimmerman who screamed for help. 3. The eyewitness also reports that Zimmerman was on the ground and Martin was on top of him beating on him. This information was made public by a local Orlando television station on February 27th. lets not jump to conclusions
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 12:26 AM in reply to rogelio
          The witness was the victims girlfriend still on the phone with him. She stated he was attempting to get away from an individual who was following him. The other witness stated they heard the youth screaming for help, not Zimmerman. How on earth can you believe an 250 lb adult was attacked by a child that weighs less than half his weight can beat him that severely?
    • reply
      by evony on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:43 PM in reply to finger on the trigger of a .357
      how stupid can you be. so now your saying that you have to dress a certain way and walk a certain while walking down the street if you want to live?? wow why not just bring slavery back while your coming up with these ideas.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 08:41 AM in reply to finger on the trigger of a .357
  • by Go home Al on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:33 PM
    Oh great, now we have "Rev Al not-so-Sharpton" leading a rally about this. Didn't he learn his lesson back with Twanna 'Scraw'-ly. This does absolutely nothing but stirr the pot, something he is famous for. It's a local FL matter, let then sort it out. Personally I don't have a problem with their law. People shouldn't have to retreat. Does it need some tweaking, maybe, but I haven't read it and will bet Rev Al hasn't either.
    • reply
      by A young man was killed....get it! on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:36 PM in reply to Go home Al
      Go back under your rock. By your own claim, you haven't read it. Do you have a magical crystal ball to determine if Rev. Sharpton read it? Or are you just full of BS?
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 23, 2012 at 08:42 AM in reply to Go home Al
      He always has to put his 2 cents into everything. He loves stirring the pot.
  • by Dave Saunders on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:14 PM
    This is a good first step. We are dealing with a corrupt Police department who have a track record of racial profiling under Lee's watch. He needs to be prosecuted and thrown in jail for his inept and callous approach to resolving issues. Maybe he and Arpaio would enjoy a vacation together in a federal prison.
    • reply
      by evony on Mar 22, 2012 at 06:46 PM in reply to Dave Saunders
      you couldn't have said it better.
  • by make the arrest on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:10 PM
    So Zimmerman claims after he started walking back to his car Trayvon turned around and ran after him and attacked him? The girlfriend said Trayvon was trying to decide between the options of running or walking fast, but instead he turned on the pursuer? The police chief believed THAT? Nothing about Zimmermans story adds up.
  • by Banister on Mar 22, 2012 at 05:02 PM
    The tapes of the 911 calls tell the story, Zimmerman doesn't sound like he is afraid of anything. I'm pretty adamant about weapon ownership, which is one of the few issues on which I depart from my friends on the Left. But firearm ownership is not only a right; it's a responsibility, a responsibility that many people are simply unqualified for. These "Stand Your Ground" laws have created a very dangerous precedent and it looks terrible for the NRA and those who support it, because as of right now a prime miscarriage of justice is taking place.
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