The Sanford, Florida Police Chief that drew severe criticisms for his departments handling of George Zimmerman and the Trayvon Martin Case, has been fired by the Sanford City Manager.
By: A.J. Niles
In a surprising turn of events, The Police Chief of the Sanford Police department, Bill Lee, has been fired by City officials. Chief Lee drew criticisms this past spring for the handling of the Trayvon Martin Case and his shooter George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman was originally set free by the Sanford Police after the police determined his use of deadly force was justified, in accordance to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
In a press release issued by Sanford City Manager, Norton Bonaparte states:
“After much thoughtful discussion and deep consideration for the issues facing the city of Sanford, I have determined the police chief needs to have the trust and respect of the elected officials and the confidence of the entire community.”
“We need to move forward with a police chief that all the citizens of Sanford can support. I have come to this decision in light of the escalating divisiveness that has taken hold of the city.”
Lee will receive three-months in severance pay and a week’s salary as well as any earned time off. Interim Chief Richard W. Myers will remain on the job as a search for Lee’s replacement is carried out.
Chief Lee originally attempted to retire back in April however the Sanford City Council decided not to accept the resignation.
Late Wednesday night, representatives of the Martin family told CNN that they “respected” the city manager’s decision.
“It’s important that we really believe that, as all of this has unfolded, we’ve continued to move closer to justice,” said family attorney Daryl Parks.
CNN is also reporting:
Wednesday, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office released 911 tapes of calls placed the morning after the shooting, when police had still not identified the 17-year–old victim. He was unarmed and carrying no identification when he was shot while walking to his father’s girlfriend’s house after picking up some snacks at a nearby store.
In the first call, Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, calls police at 8:39 a.m. asking to file a missing persons report, which typically would not be accepted until 24 hours after a person has been discovered missing. “It hasn’t really been 24 hours,” he tells the police dispatcher. “But I’m from Miami and my son’s up here with me … he don’t know anybody up here.”
In the return call, placed nine minutes later, the dispatcher tells the victim’s father that an officer is en route to where he was staying.
Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, made an appearance at the National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans telling them Trayvon’s family has been heartened by the response from the community.
“It’s just nice to see so many people that support us, so many people that walk up to us just to give us a hug. Just to tell us that they support us,” she said. “It does the heart good. Yes, we still are hurting. We just had to go through a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day and it hurts. It just hurts.”