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Trayvon Martin case: Sanford rejects police chief's resignation

April 23, 2012|Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • Sanford, Fla., Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. addresses the media.
Sanford, Fla., Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. addresses the media. (Mario Tama / Getty Images )

This post has been updated. Please see note at bottom for details.

Sanford, Fla., city commissioners on Monday rejected the resignation of Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. hours after the resignation was officially announced.

At a special meeting of the commission, members voted 3 to 2 not to accept Lee's resignation after the controversial killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26. The unarmed teenager was walking through a gated community when he was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

Lee, 52, temporarily left his post last month during complaints about the shooting investigation, especially the decision by investigators not to arrest George Zimmerman, who said he shot Martin in self-defense.

On Monday, Mayor Jeff Triplett and commissioners Patty Mahany and Randy Jones voted to reject Lee’s resignation; commissioners Velma Williams and Mark McCarty voted to accept it.

Jones said Lee "needs to be reinstated immediately,” not forced to resign to appease a small group of critics, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

"For some, there is complete disdain of the police department, even if Jesse Jackson was the police chief," Jones said.

One member of the audience stood up and held a sign that read, "Bring back Billy," the Sentinel reported.

Lee had served as chief for about a year, earning more than $102,000. He was set to resign at midnight Monday under the separation agreement proposed by the city manager and released by city officials.

City officials had said Sanford Police Capt. Darren Scott, appointed acting chief after Lee temporarily stepped aside, would remain in his current role "while the city continues its search for an interim police chief."

City officials could not be reached to clarify whether Lee would return as chief. A city spokesman said officials were preparing to release more information shortly. 

[Updated: 4:47 p.m., April 23: Sanford city officials later said that the chief would remain on paid administrative leave while the investigation continued and that Capt. Darren Scott would remain as acting police chief.]


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