It’s been less than a month since Sanford, Fla. Police Chief Bill Lee decided to step down, but the city commissioner officially denied his request Monday (April 23). Lee announced in late March that he would be taking a leave of absence in light of the controversial shooting death of Trayvon Martin, however after the city announced that an agreement had been reached in his resignation, a 3-2 vote opted to deny his proposal.
If accepted Lee would have been released from his position and received a severance package. While one voter, Mayor Jeff Triplett, moved to wait until the outcome of the Martin case, two other voters questioned the fairness of Lee’s request. “I’m not ready to have him come back and run the Police Department, but I don’t know if I’m ready for this either,” noted Triplett, who elicited criticism from the Martin family.
According to the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, Lee should be allowed to resign. “Sanford residents deserve quality leadership in law enforcement who will handle investigations fairly for all people,” he said. “If Chief Bill Lee recognized that his resignation would help start the healing process in Sanford, city leadership should have accepted it in an effort to move the city forward.”
Lee came under fire for his handling of the Martin case, and for releasing George Zimmerman following an investigation into the shooting. It wasn’t until the story caught local and national attention that special prosecutor, Angela Corey, found probable cause to bring second-degree murder charges against the 28-year-old. Zimmerman later turned himself in to authorities, and after spending just over a week behind bars, he was released on $150,000 bond.
Court documents filed by his lawyer, Mike O’Mara, revealed that Zimmerman entered a hand-written not guilty plea, and waved his right to appear at his arraignment scheduled for May 29, but has been moved up for unreleased reasons.
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Photo: ABC News