Amid uproar over how he has handled (or, many would argue, bungled) the investigation into the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee has temporarily stepped down from his position, The New York Times reports. The news comes as no shock, as the city’s commissioners gave Chief Lee “no confidence” votes on Wednesday night.
“I must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford. I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks,” he said after coming under much scrutiny for not arresting Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman. Chief Lee maintains authorities were not permitted to arrest Zimmerman based on “facts and circumstances” they collected at the time.
“It is my hope that the investigation will move forward swiftly and appropriately through the justice system and that a final determination in this case is reached,” Lee said.
Chief Lee believes he’s become a distraction in the ongoing investigation, which is gaining steam. “As a former homicide investigator, a career law enforcement officer and a father, I am keenly aware of the emotions associated with this tragic death of a child,” he said. “I’m also aware that my role as a leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation.”
Yesterday, protestors and Trayvon supporters gathered at New York City’s Union Square to participate in the “Million Hoodie March.” At the gathering, Sybrina Fulton, the victim’s mother, said, “My heart is in pain, but to see the support of all of you really makes a difference. This is not a Black and White thing — this is about a right or wrong thing.”
Late Monday, Bevard County State Attorney Norm Wolfinger announced a Grand Jury would look into the case. The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Right Division have also intervened.