Police Chief Axed Over Trayvon Case

Bill Lee dismissed for 'losing community confidence'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2012 3:35 AM CDT
Updated Jun 21, 2012 3:50 AM CDT
Police Chief Axed Over Trayvon Case
"I continue to stand by the work performed by the Sanford Police Department in this tragic shooting," Lee said in a statement.    (AP Photo/Julie Fletcher, File)

(Newser) – The police chief whose officers failed to arrest George Zimmerman after the Trayvon Martin shooting has been fired. Bill Lee, who stepped down temporarily three months ago amid fierce criticism of his handling of the case, was dismissed by Sanford's city manager, reports the Orlando Sentinel. "I have determined the police chief needs to have the trust and respect of the elected officials, and the confidence of the entire community," the manager said. "I have come to this decision in light of the escalating divisiveness that has taken hold of the city."

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Lee offered to quit in April, but city commissioners rejected his resignation by a 3-2 vote. He said in a statement that he was disappointed in the city manager's move, but was confident that "the evidence will show that our investigation was a proper effort to find the truth and follow the law." The manager had repeatedly said that he wouldn't fire Lee unless major flaws in the Trayvon investigation were uncovered. The dead teenager's parents, along with civil rights leaders, have been calling for the chief's dismissal for months. "You can't heal with the same people in place," Trayvon's father said last week. "If Chief Bill Lee is hired back, the same things are going to happen." (Read more Bill Lee stories.)

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