Bill Lee Jr.: Police chief in Trayvon Martin case steps down

An unidentified driver protests the death of Trayvon Martin outside Sanford Police Headquarters in Sanford, Florida.

The police chief of a Florida town where an unarmed black teenager was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer said on Thursday he would temporarily step down from his job, saying his role in the investigation had become too much of a distraction.

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee had been heading up the investigation into the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by watch captain George Zimmerman, 28. The incident has sparked a nationwide public outcry over Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which Zimmerman says makes the killing self defense.

Police have declined to arrest Zimmerman.

Lee called himself a distraction and said it had become “apparent that my involvement in the matter is overshadowing the process.” He has been on the job less than one year.

Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte, speaking at a press conference at City Hall, said he was starting a search for an interim police chief. In the interim, he said, two current captains will head the police force, which has 140 officers.

“What the city of Sanford wants more than anything else for the Trayvon Martin family is justice,” Bonaparte said.

Lee’s decision to step down comes a day after Sanford’s city commissioners passed a motion of “no confidence” in him and follows calls for his resignation by civil rights groups angered over the police department’s handling of the case.

Lee previously said he had no choice under Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law but to let Zimmerman go free. The 2005 law allows someone in fear of “great bodily harm” to respond with deadly force, and removes any duty to retreat if possible to avoid confrontation.

On February 26, Martin was returning to a gated community from a candy run at a convenience store when Zimmerman, carrying a licensed handgun in his role as a neighborhood watch captain, saw him. He called police to report a “suspicious guy” and followed him despite the dispatcher’s advice not to do so.

Neighbors said they heard a scuffle, cries for help and then a gunshot.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Judge strikes down NY limits on donations to…

A federal judge on Thursday reluctantly struck down New York's limits on donations to independent political action committees as unconstitutional, potentially ushering in a new…

Local

On-duty NYPD detective arrested for DWI in Queens

A New York City Police detective was arrested early Thursday and charged with driving under the influence while on the clock.

Local

City Council committee moves Williamsburg's Domino refinery deal…

The deal to turn the old Domino Sugar refinery along the Williamsburg waterfront into a new housing complex is one Council vote away from approval.

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Movies

'A Brony Tale' documents men who are into…

Ashleigh Ball, a voice actress on "My Little Pony," speaks to us.

Movies

Tribeca: Nikki Reed on going funny for a…

"Intramural" star Nikki Reed talks about being the straight person in a broad comedy, spending time in Austin and how "Thirteen" was a "miracle."

The Word

Taylor Swift has a hard time leaving the…

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

Going Out

Pop-up cat cafe opens to long lines in…

The country's first pop-up cat cafe opened in New York on Thursday.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

5 infamous pitcher ejections for cheating

Never fear Yankees fans, Michael Pineda is far from the first MLB pitcher to be thrown out of a game for cheating.

MLB

Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda ejected for using pine…

Pineda was thrown out of the game against the Red Sox Wednesday for having pine tar on his neck -- for all the world to see.

NFL

Giants 2014 regular season schedule

The Giants will play five prime-time games — against the Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Colts and Cowboys.

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.

Style

MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.