SEARCH

Entries in Police Chief (3)

Monday
Apr232012

Sanford Police Chief Resigns; George Zimmerman Back in Hiding

Mario Tama/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee offered his resignation Monday, but the city council refused to accept it. Lee temporarily withdrew as chief last month in the wake of the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Martin's family released a statement seeming to object to the city council's action.

"Sanford residents deserve quality leadership in law enforcement who will handle investigations fairly for all people," the family said. "If Chief Bill Lee recognized that his resignation would help start the healing process in Sanford, city leadership should have accepted it in an effort to move the city forward."

video platform video management video solutions video player

George Zimmerman, wearing a bulletproof vest, walked out of a Florida jail shortly after midnight Monday and slipped back into hiding, where his lawyer says he will likely stay until his trial next year.

Zimmerman was able to leave jail after posting $150,000 bond as he awaits trial on a second-degree murder charge in Trayvon Martin's killing.

He left the John E. Polk Correctional Facility at the Seminole County Sheriff's Office accompanied by a man ABC News identified as his bail bondsman.

Zimmerman was fitted with an electronic monitoring device prior to release, according to a statement from the sheriff's office. The GPS device, which can give immediate identification of an offender's whereabouts anywhere in the U.S., suggests that the defense's request that he be allowed to wait out the trial out of Florida may have been granted.

The terms of his release require him to report his whereabouts every three days, according to court documents.

Out of concern for his safety, Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara says that he will waive Zimmerman's appearance at his arraignment May 8. When asked if Zimmerman will be seen in public again anytime soon, O'Mara said, "I don't think so," and added that Zimmerman may not be seen in public until he testifies.

Zimmerman stunned a Florida court Friday by taking the stand and apologizing to the parents of Trayvon Martin, who were sitting in the courtroom during Zimmerman's bond hearing.

"I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not," Zimmerman said, addressing Martin's family directly.

Zimmerman told police the night he shot and killed Martin that he acted in self-defense after Martin punched him and pounced on him. Zimmerman told police that Martin then bashed his head into the concrete sidewalk during the altercation that took place in the tidy middle-class development of the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar232012

Trayvon Martin Shooting: Key Investigator, Police Chief Step Down

Mario Tama/Getty Images(SANFORD, Fla.) -- Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee announced Thursday he is temporarily stepping down amid accusations that his department bungled the investigation into the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

Lee's announcement came shortly before Florida Gov. Rick Scott said another key investigator tied to the case, State Attorney Norman Wolfinger, also had agreed to withdraw.  Angela B. Corey of the 4th Judicial Circuit Court was appointed to replace Wolfinger.

Scott added that Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll would lead a special new task force to prevent future tragedies like Martin's death that would "conduct public hearings, take testimony and recommend actions -- legislative and otherwise -- to both protect our citizens and safeguard our rights."

In a press conference, Lee said he was stepping aside because he "hopes to restore semblance of calm to the city."  He added, "My hope is that the investigation process will move forth swiftly."

Lee said he stands by his department's investigation and the officers involved, but he acknowledges that he has become "a distraction from the investigation."

"It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process," he said.

City Manager Norton Bonaparte, who had earlier said he would defer any decision on Lee's fate until after a thorough investigation had been completed, said, "What the city of Sanford wants more than anything else for the family of Trayvon Martin is justice."

"We are looking for a complete, thorough review," he said.  "Justice will prevail."

Martin, a 17-year-old black youth, was carrying only a bag of Skittles, iced tea and his cellphone, when Zimmerman allegedly killed him on Feb. 26.

While Martin's family has repeatedly called for Zimmerman's arrest, Sanford police accepted Zimmerman's claim that the shooting was in self defense.

Lee's resignation comes as the Sanford police department has come under increased scrutiny for an investigation that some say they botched from the very start.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar212012

Trayvon Martin Case: Lead Investigator Asked to Step Down

Comstock/Thinkstock(SANFORD, Fla.) -- As tensions between community leaders and residents in Sanford, Fla., reach a boiling point, the man leading the investigation into the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is being asked to step down.

During a heated special meeting regarding the death of the unarmed teen, who was shot and killed allegedly by the self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, Sanford city commissioners conducted a vote of no confidence against embattled Police Chief Billy Lee. Three of five commissioners voted against the chief.

One commissioner demanded that Lee resign. It is now up to the city manager to decide whether or not to let Lee go.

"The unknown in a tragedy will make the heart do crazy things, and we haven't done a good job of getting out in front of that," said Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett after the vote. "I have confidence in him in a lot of ways, and don't have confidence in him in some ways."

The vote of "no confidence" came after Triplett was forced to answer some tough questions from neighborhood residents and the media, during an NAACP meeting aimed at addressing allegations of police misconduct in the community.

"If there were mistakes made we are going to act accordingly," Triplett said in response to a question from ABC News about the investigation into Martin's death.

Some believe local authorities botched the investigation from the start.

Martin, who was black, was carrying only a bag of skittles, iced tea and his cell phone, when Zimmerman shot and killed him on Feb. 26. While Martin's family has repeatedly called for Zimmerman's arrest, Sanford Police accepted and stand by Zimmerman's claim of self-defense.

But it's not just the mayor, or the conduct of the police officers, that is being questioned.

Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law gives enormous leeway to people like Zimmerman to use deadly force if they feel threatened. Since the law was enacted seven years ago, justified homicides in Florida have jumped threefold, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Twenty states have similar laws, but Florida's is widely viewed as having the broadest application. Courts across the state have been trying to figure out how to grapple with the legislation.

Cases like Martin's have led Florida State Representative Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, one of the original sponsors of the law, to say that it has been misused.

"There was nothing in this statute ever intended to protect somebody who was pursuing or confronting other people," said Baxley.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio