Sanford Police Chief

March 23, 2012 by staff 

Sanford Police Chief, The police chief and prosecutor who have been bitterly criticized for not arresting a neighborhood watch volunteer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager both left the case Thursday, with the chief saying that he is temporarily leaving his job to let passions cool.

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee’s decision came less than a day after city commissioners gave him a “no confidence’’ vote, and after a couple of weeks of protests and uproar on social media websites. Lee has said evidence in the case supported George Zimmerman’s claim that the Feb. 26 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was self-defense.

“I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks,’’ Lee said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at a rally with Tracy Martin (right) and Sybrina Fulton (2d left), the parents of Trayvon Martin.

About three hours later, Governor Rick Scott said that the local state attorney, Norman Wolfinger, had recused himself from the case. In a letter to Scott, Wolfinger said that while he thought he could fairly oversee any prosecution that develops in the case, his recusal was aimed at “toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of the investigation.’’ Scott appointed Angela B. Corey, the state attorney for the Jacksonville area, to take over the case.

‘If they wanted to defuse a potential powder keg, he needed to resign. His inaction speaks loudly to the black community.’

Scott also appointed a task force led by Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll to conduct hearings on the case and to make recommendations for any changes to state law or procedures. Carroll is African-American.

Martin was returning from a trip to a convenience store when Zimmerman started following him, telling police dispatchers he looked suspicious. At some point, the two got into a fight and Zimmerman pulled out his gun.

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