The Sanford, Fla., police chief who was strongly criticized for his department’s failure to arrest of the shooter in the killing of Trayvon Martin, was fired Wednesday June 20.
City Manager Norton Bonaparte said he relieved Chief Bill Lee of duty because the manager “determined “the police chief needs to have the trust and respect of the officials and confidence of the entire community.”
“We need to move forward with a police chief that all the citizens of Sanford can support. I have come to this decision in light of the escalating divisiveness that has taken hold of the city,” Bonaparte said.
The city manager made the right decision in firing the police chief whose department mishandled the Martin case.
To keep Chief Lee would have only prolonged the pain and polarization of this central Florida city, near Orlando.
Lee’s firing is a direct result of the Martin case.
The 17-year-old was shot Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in the city of Sanford, as Martin walked back from a local convenience store to the apartment where he and his father were staying. Martin was unarmed, carrying only a can of iced tea and a pack of candy, when Zimmerman shot him. Zimmerman claimed he shot the teen in self-defense, under Florida’s stand your ground law.
However, the evidence suggests Zimmerman was the aggressor. Zimmerman spotted the Black teenager walking from the store through the gated community and started following him, according to the police report.
Zimmerman called police after spotting Martin. Despite a dispatcher telling him not to follow the teen, Zimmerman kept up his pursuit, even getting out of his truck to look for him. Martin appears to have been the victim of racial profiling by Zimmerman.
Zimmerman’s father is white and his mother is Hispanic.
When city officials fired Chief Lee it was long overdue.
In April, city commissioners made a mistake in rejecting Chief Lee’s resignation. Lee had temporarily stepped down in March because he said this would let emotions cool in the aftermath of Martin’s slaying.
At the time the city commissioners attempted to blame the city’s polarization on outside groups instead of carrying outa tough examination of a police department that botched the investigation of the Martin slaying.
What “outside groups” did was force Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott and the U.S. Justice Department to take another look at the Martin case.
Protests over the lack of an arrest led to a federal investigation and the local prosecutor removing himself from the case, prompting the governor to appoint a special prosecutor who eventually charged Zimmerman.
Lee had to be fired because of his police department’s lack of a thorough investigation and arrest in the killing of an unarmed teen.