Sanford Police Chief Resigns Amid Criticism of Trayvon Martin Case

Bill Lee Jr., the embattled chief of the Sanford Police Department, has resigned his position

By Jorge Rivas Apr 23, 2012

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee resigned from his position on Monday afternoon. The news comes 57 days after his department declined to arrest neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, according to a city official familiar with the matter.

Orlando Sentinel reports Commissioner Patty Mahany said she received a call from City Manager Norton Bonaparte just after 11 a.m., informing her that Lee has submitted his resignation.

Orlando Sentinel with more details:

"This is absolutely political," said Mahany, a Lee supporter. "It’s solely political…The city manager felt he had no choice. That there could be no healing with Lee as the police chief."

Lee, who became Sanford’s police chief in April after 27 years as a Seminole County deputy, stepped down temporarily in March, saying he had become a "distraction."

"I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks," said Lee, 52, in a brief March 22 news conference.

Lee announced that he was temporarily stepping aside on March 22, a day after Sanford’s city commission expressed a lack of confidence in his handling of the incident.