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Sanford Police Chief Steps Down, Claimed He 'Distracted' From Trayvon Martin Case

Sanford Police Chief Steps Down, Claimed He 'Distracted' From Trayvon Martin Case

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee has moved aside "temporarily" while the investigation into the slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26 is conducted.

"I have come to the decision that I must temporarily relieve myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford," said Lee.

The Sanford, Fla. police chief made the announcement Thursday at about 3:30 p.m., citing that his continued involvement in the case would only function as a "distraction."

"My role as the leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation," Lee explained to reporters. "It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process."

Amidst public outrage, demands by Martin's parents for an arrest of the shooter, George Zimmerman, and national inquiry into the facts of the case, Police Chief Bill Lee decided to step aside "temporarily" in order for the investigation to be conducted thoroughly. It is far from what some advocates warranted, though- many called for his resignation outright.

Lee's decision comes after the Sanford City Commission passed a motion of "no confidence" for the police chief, demonstrating that they felt he handled the situation poorly. Instead of arresting Zimmerman, who claimed he killed the unarmed Martin in "self defense," Lee cited the Stand Your Ground law, which allows one to "meet force with force."

The city council, despite the law, found Lee's "lack of leadership" to be disturbing.

"I've never thought the chief was a racist or anything," Commissioner Velma Williams told the Miami Herald, dismissing the accusations of many protestors. "It's more a lack of experience and a lack of leadership."

Martin's parents and lawyers don't agree. For them, Zimmerman's arrest should have been one of the first actions taken when Trayvon was found laying face down, his killer a few feet away.

"Trayvon had a bag of Skittles," Martin family attorney Ben Crump told Matt Lauer on "The Today Show." "[Zimmerman] had a nine millimeter gun. …You … listen to those 911 tapes and the three witnesses, everyone in America is asking, when are they going to arrest Zimmerman for killing this kid in cold blood?"

During the 911 call, someone can be heard shouting "help!" repeatedly before the gunshot rang out. It is unclear who yelled, but Zimmerman said the voice on the tape was his.

"That was my baby, and he was pleading for his life," Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother, told Amy Robach on "Today" Saturday. "I just don't understand how that's self defense. You can clearly [hear] him yelling for help."

Lee did not comment as to when he would return to the Sanford Police Department.


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