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Fla. Chief Steps Down In Teen's Shooting

March 23, 2012  | 

Screenshot: WESH
Screenshot: WESH

Sanford (Fla.) Police Chief Bill Lee has stepped down temporarily, saying he has become a distraction in the investigation of the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

"I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks," said Lee during a Thursday news conference.

Lee, a former Seminole County Sheriff's deputy, took over as chief in April. He took over policing in a jurisdiction with "hard-core urban crime and a hostile black community," reports the Morris Daily Herald.

The resignation came amid furious protests and calls for the arrest of George Zimmerman, who has claimed self-defense in the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott appointed a task force to investigate the shooting and review the state's "Stand Your Ground" law. Angela Corey, the state attorney for Duval, Nassa,u and Clay counties, will serve as special prosecutor in the case, reports the Miami Herald.

On Friday, President Obama called the shooting a tragedy and promised to "get to the bottom of exactly what happened."


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Chief In Fla. Teen's Shooting Gets No Confidence Vote

Comments (18)

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18

Ima Leprechaun @ 3/24/2012 5:29 AM

Thankfully the FBI and the US Attorney are stepping into this. This is the biggest most unprofessional mess I have ever seen. It's unfortunate that smaller agencies in Florida tend to lack ethical behavior. I have never heard of a temporary resignation before this one. Something here is very wrong.

JimA @ 3/24/2012 7:23 AM

I am not sure this is the "unprofessional mess" that "lacks ethical behavior" that someone thinks. I do not think we have enough information to say that. This department INVITED the DOJ and US Attorney General to examine their work and assist. This department has waited for their investigation results before making a charging decision. Is that unprofessional or unethical?

We might find out later that it is, but I am unwilling to say that right now. If we were Zimmerman, would we not want them to be complete before making a decision? This is being fueled by the media and allegations of racism. It might not be that at all! We would not be hearing about it at all if this was reversed, but the media is basically not reporting this - they are inciting a riot. I hear this on the news four times an hour. Every community is organizing a march. Come on! We don't know yet!

Let's wait awhile before we make accusations about guilt of a suspect or unprofessionalism and unethical behavior by a police department. And the Chief is the scapegoat of this, at least for now.


GM @ 3/24/2012 8:26 AM

JimA is completely accurate. If you read the entire article by clicking on the link to the Morris Daily Herald you will read a fair, accurate and complete accounting. Every State Attorney is the ultimate decision maker in Florida. I see cases all the time where the evidence is not clear cut and it is presented to the State, who must determine, according to their oath of office, whether or not, if they accept the case, they can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. That is their burden of proof going in. If this was a shooting with 5 EYEWITNESSES this would have been an easy arrest. But you have multiple legal issues which must all be addressed before charging.

I also agree with him that this incident is media fueled. Obviously, it is a tragedy, but in the end I believe that the system will prevail and justice will be served.

Jim @ 3/24/2012 8:58 AM

I sure am glad Obama promised to "get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

Jim @ 3/24/2012 8:59 AM

I sure am glad Obama promised to "get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

Chief Watkins @ 3/24/2012 9:17 AM

The real tradgety here is that Trayvon Martin is the one who should be claiming self-defense and "stand your ground," defense becaused he was stalked and attacked. As for Chief Lee, he should be fired for malfeasance. His department did not, conduct a thorough death investigation. Zimmerman's actions and statement provided more than enough probable cause to warrant his arrest, seizure of his gun, clothing etc. This case is a classic example of what happens (at all levels) when you speculate and don't investigate (crimes, administrative & personal matters).

Lt.LKD @ 3/24/2012 10:17 AM

Chief Watkins you are right: Chief Lee had considerable time to conduct an investigation: Law Enforcement officer's must make decision's based on facts: not emotions or prejudice: no-one should change the outcomes of a murder investigations: DOJ and the outside investigative agencies should have been called in by the COP along time ago.

Shawn @ 3/25/2012 2:02 AM

I read on-line to back the claim that Zimmerman was attacked from behind by Martin, Zimmerman had bloody injuries to the back of his head and face as well as grass stains to his clothing - if this is true this possible "evidence" would support that a physical fight had taken place and if these injuries caused blood from the back of the head I could start to agree that great bodily harm and possible death could result if not stopped. We all agree that striking someone in the head, enough force to draw blood could result in an inury that was serious and even potentially deadly right? Do you have the right if you feel your life or health were greatly at risk to use deadly force to protect yourself? I think we know the answer to that one if these facts were true.

F, Cook @ 3/25/2012 12:31 PM

I think we are all jumping to conclusions before there is a proper investigation in this matter. We read her both sides of the fence and there isn't anyone on here that says they know all the evidence yet we make hasty decisions. Let the investigation begin and be truthful.

Charlie @ 3/25/2012 9:06 PM

Personally, I believe this is a media attempt to create tension and sensationalism to distract america during an election year. The media is worried that the current president will lose so they have to create distraction through disruption and create an opportunity for the president to save the day. All of this in an effort to create this need for the current president to stay in office.

Greg @ 3/26/2012 3:46 AM

I keep waiting for a "Free Mummia" supporter to show up...sure sounds like his people here. Phew...I did expect better logic and experience disappointing to read the New Black Panter Party and Al "Tawana Brawley" talking points. It's like going to court and seeing the gangbanger with a nice haircut, in a sweater vest and being told to act like a high school boy and be sweetness and light. Tadaa! Instantly, the cop is evil and hates blacks vs. the person he faced down. See the current photos of baby Trayvan? Thug, gold grill of teeth, gang signing and attitude in his photos...what does the press and the usual Black race baiters show? A photo of an 11 year old kid. No change between 11 and 17. What photo do they show of Zimmerman? Everything booking looking but the height markings behind him. Nope, no bias there. Trayvan's father said, "Nope, wasn't my son's voice calling for help". One witness said it was baby Trayvan on top of Zimmerman beating him and the guy in red (Zimmerman) calling for help. Zimmerman is hispanic but the Blacks and their press minions called him White (and they all so want him White to gin up more hatred), no bias there. Not much info getting out to provide data on baby Trayvan...police records (he's a child, we can't release them), why he was kicked out of school for a week (he's a child, we can't release them) and once again, only baby photos of the thug wanna' be are used. As with any thug, his mom cries, "but he was a saint, a good boy, he never did anything wrong...he was a saint everyone loved". At 3:00AM, no saint is heading out for Skittles (psst, no close stores open at 3:00AM...closest was a Kohls department store evidently. No good comes from a 17 year old child out at 3:00AM.

Juan 10-13 @ 3/26/2012 5:09 AM

Oh yes there is something wrong going on there! Brothers and sisters pull up a chair and sit tight for a most thrilling ride of a lifetime! There will be more characters then the Lord of Rings trilogy and saucery then the Harry Potter series by the time the dust settles!

Dan Birdsley @ 3/26/2012 6:01 AM

Perhaps media attention needs to be drawn to the states that have the so-called "stand your ground" law. This is asking for questionable cases, doubt and trouble.

Confused @ 3/26/2012 9:07 AM

Let me see if I understand what happened,

Mr Zimmerman, while armed, approached a Law abiding citizen at night, who was unarmed, and an altercation insued whereupon Mr. Zimmerman drew his weapon, shot , and killed the unarmed law abiding citizen, the local police showed up and determined that because the victim was unarmed, black, and dead that Mr. Zimmerman was in fear for his life and was justified in killing the unarmed law abiding citizen.

Did I get it wrong?

Bob Springfield @ 3/26/2012 9:57 AM

I have a better do you go from Deputy Sheriff to Police Chief and in another agency? Good old boy politics at it's best. Ridiculous!

retiredblue @ 3/26/2012 3:12 PM

While I agree with the fact it "appears" this investigation was not handled properly, I also agree the media is creating a firestorm that will end in more problems for everyone involved: including a fair trial for Zimmerman if he ultimately gets charged. From an outsider looking in it sure seems the local PD dropped the ball with their investigation. The shooter appears to be a hypervigilant cop wanna-be. There is a REASON he is NOT a police officer! It was easy to see that Zimmeraman profiled this kid from the start. I can't say it was racist as much as it appears to be prejudice. He profiled him plain and simple.

I also feel sorry for the Dispatcher who told him to not get involved and wait for police to arrive and then to hear screams and a gunshot. I do have to say the Chief stepping down "temporarily" is a first for me. Either you are suspended pending an investigation or you resign. Sounds like Chief Lee wasn't ready to be a Chief.

Commander Griffin @ 3/26/2012 4:34 PM

Let's save our judgement on everyone involved with this case. Time will reveal the facts of this unfortunate incident. Don't judge the PD or civilians of this town, before the facts are in!

EmerF @ 3/27/2012 5:34 AM

After, Careful Thought, and Review, so far, of what I have seen and heard, on this matter; And, Not To Be Redundant;.. But, I totally agree with your former commentator, JimA, (03/24/2012-7:23am)!

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