Update [3/22]: Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee announced Thursday he is stepping down “temporarily” as head of the department, according to recent reports. Lee has received a lot of scrutiny for the handling of the Trayvon Martin investigation.
“I am aware my role as leader of this department has become a distraction from the investigation,” said Lee, adding that “temporarily removing” himself from the role would restore a “semblance of calm to the city which has been in turmoil for several weeks.”
The decision comes one day after the city commission gave Lee a vote of “no confidence.”
News of the killing of an unarmed 17-year-old Florida high school student has garnered national attention after the 911 tapes were released last Friday. Trayvon Martin’s family is asking the FBI to investigate the killing of the high-school junior, who was shot by a watch volunteer outside of the home of his father’s fiancée.
George Zimmerman, 28, has yet to be arrested or charged for the crime. He claims he acted in self-defense.
On Feb. 26, Martin was watching the NBA All-Star game while he and his father, Tracey Martin, were visiting Martin’s fiancée, who lived in a gated townhouse community, according to The Root. During halftime, the teen went to a 7-Eleven to buy snacks. While walking back, a young Martin caught the attention of Zimmerman, who was in an SUV.
Zimmerman called to report “a really suspicious guy” who looked like “he was up to no good.” Moments after the self-appointed neighborhood surveyor made the call, he allegedly shot Martin in the chest.
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, Jr. says that the shooting had nothing to do with race. Lawyers for the Martin family say that he should be arrested immediately and are calling on the FBI to begin an investigation.