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
National

Train selfie star who got kicked in the…

  A 22-year-old Canadian man who posted a video of himself getting kicked in the head by a train conductor is set to cash in…

National

Call of Duty hoaxer blamed for $100K SWAT…

A heavilly-armed SWAT team and an army of police officers stormed a Long Island home fearing a grisly double homicide – only to find it…

National

Minnie Driver tweets naked celebrity snap to 'shut…

Actress Minnie Driver has responded to bitchy critics who sniped about her bikini body by Tweeting a naked picture of herself. The 44-year-old star of…

National

American middle classes no longer world's richest (guess…

America's middle classes are no longer the richest in the world – having been overtaken in the wealth stakes by their Canadian counterparts. For almost…

The Word

Lupita Nyong'o is People's Most Beautiful

Congratulations to Lupita Nyong'o, officially the most beautiful human on the face of planet Earth (2014 season).

Television

John Turturro tags in for Robert De Niro…

The cast of the courtroom drama miniseries has undergone yet another shift. Following Robert De Niro's exit, the cable network has brought in John Turturro…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 22: 'Glee,' 'Agents…

'Glee' Rachel makes her Broadway debut in "Funny Girl." Remember when she was just a high school drama nerd? FOX, 8PM 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'…

The Word

Lindsay Lohan's big, drunk interview

Lindsay Lohan appears to be completely off the wagon now, if Kode magazine's chronicle of her trip to Coachella is any indication. According to the…

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers,…

MLB Power Rankings: Brewers best in baseball, Dodgers, Cardinals, Yankees surge. The A's, Braves, Rangers, Giants and Rockies are also in the top 10.

NBA

Breaking down the Sixers top draft options

With the NBA Playoffs now in full force, there’s only one thing on the mind of Sixers fans at the moment -- the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.

MLB

Metro one-on-one: Q&A with Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere

Charlie Manuel used to say that the Phillies go as Jimmy Rollins goes. Well, Ryne Sandberg might have a new Phillies catalyst, Ben Revere, in his midst.

Sports

2014 Boston Marathon results: American Meb Keflezighi wins…

2014 Boston Marathon results: American Meb Keflezighi wins men's race

Wellbeing

Why you need a facial

What can a facial do for your face that a washcloth and soap can’t?

Wellbeing

How to burn off all that Easter candy

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but you can't eat chocolate eggs and Jelly Bellys forever.

Food

Powdered alcohol: 5 things to know about 'Palcohol'

What's the deal with powdered alcohol? Here's what you need to know about Palcohol.

Travel

Travel hacks: 6 tips on living out of…

Lynne Martin shares her travel hacks on living out of just two suitcases.