In the weeks between Trayvon Martin's shooting and George Zimmerman's arrest, intense scrutiny and outrage descended on the Sanford Police Department and its chief, Bill Lee Jr. Lee had been on the job for less than a year when Trayvon was shot, having replaced the prior chief, Brian Tooley, who was forced out by the city's last race-tinged scandal: A case involving a Sanford officer's son who sucker-punched a homeless black man, but was not arrested until seven weeks later. As protests continued over his agency's refusal to arrest Zimmerman, citing the Neighborhood Watch volunteer's self-defense claim, Sanford on March 16 relented to repeated public demands for Zimmerman's call to police and 911 calls from the night of the shooting, with Lee saying he hoped they'd calm tensions. The effect was the opposite: Zimmerman's call, in which he described Trayvon as suspicious, further angered supporters of the teen's family, as did 911 audio which captured the fatal shot. Less than a week after releasing the calls Sanford City Commission voted "no confidence" in Lee, who stepped down temporarily. A month later, when he offered his resignation, the commission rejected it. Ultimately, he was fired by the city manager.
Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel
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