Moments ago, embattled Sanford, Florida police chief Bill Lee announced he would be stepping down temporarily, saying his leadership has become a “distraction” for the investigation into Trayvon Martin’s killing. Lee said he stood by the Sanford police department’s actions, but then added, “It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process. Therefore, I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself.” Watch it:
Earlier in the week, calls for firing Lee were met with standing ovations at an NAACP meeting. Also, the Sanford city commission voted 3-2 to express no confidence in Lee. The resignation comes hours before a massive rally is scheduled to take place in support of Martin and his family.
Critics have faulted the police chief for botching aspects of the investigation from the start, including failing to immediately launch an investigation, failing to administer drug/alcohol tests to the shooter George Zimmerman, and failing to take Zimmerman into custody.
Gov. Rick Scott announced tonight that the local state attorney, Norman Wolfinger, recused himself from the case. In a letter to Scott, Wolfinger said that while he thought he could fairly oversee any prosecution that develops in the case, his recusal was aimed at “toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of the investigation.”