In Trayvon Martin Probe, Sanford Police Chief Steps Aside
One day after city commission rebuke, top cop relieves himself temporarily
Bearing the brunt of a federal takeover of his investigation, a vote of no confidence by city commissioner, and growing international outrage, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, Jr announced Thursday that he was temporarily stepping aside, to let the others lead the investigation of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's death.
The 52-year-old top cop of the Orlando suburb has defended his department’s handling of the investigation, but quickly came under fire after 911 tapes revealed 17-year-old Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman, may not have actually shot the teen in self defense.
From a Thursday press conference:
“While I stand by the Sanford Police Department, its personnel and the investigation that was conducted in regards to the Trayvon Martin case, it is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process… Therefore, I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself from the position as the police chief of the City of Sanford. I do this in hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to this city, which has been in turmoil for several weeks.”
During a rally in New York City on Wednesday, Martin’s parents expressed their dissatisfaction with Lee’s handling of the investigation – namely, Lee's supposed rush to close an investigation on Zimmerman.
“Until you got involved, the Sanford Police Department was going to accept everything that (Zimmerman) said as gospel,” attorney Benjamin Crump said on behalf of the family.
Zimmerman, 28, has not been arrested by any law enforcement agency, even after 911 tapes cast startling doubt over his self-defense claims.