City commission rejects Fla. chief's resignation

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee was expected to resign 57 days after his department declined to arrest neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman


SANFORD, Fla. — The Sanford City Commission rejected Police Chief Bill Lee's resignation Monday.

Lee was expected to resign 57 days after his department declined to arrest neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

A special City Commission meeting was held and officials were asked to approve Lee's resignation, effective at midnight.

The city commission had a heated debate on whether Lee is being forced out by the city manager or if Lee actually is resigning.

Lee announced that he was temporarily stepping aside on March 22, a day after Sanford's city commission expressed a lack of confidence in his handling of the incident.

Lee was hired a year ago to the Sanford Police Department.

At the time, Sanford police were under intense pressure to arrest Zimmerman, 28, for shooting the unarmed teenager. Zimmerman was later charged with second-degree murder after a special prosecutor investigated the case.

Zimmerman left the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Sanford, Florida, after making bail around midnight Sunday, wearing a brown jacket and blue jeans and carrying a brown paper bag in his arms. He got into the back of a white BMW and did not speak to reporters.

It was not immediately known where he was headed. Family members and Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, have stressed the need for secrecy regarding Zimmerman's destination. Both he and his family have received threats, they said.

The Seminole County Sheriff's Office said Zimmerman had been fitted with a GPS monitoring device allowing authorities to track his location.

He is next scheduled to appear in court for his arraignment — a formal reading of charges against him — on May 8, according to documents released by the court on Monday. His arraignment had previously been scheduled for May 29.

Zimmerman's release came as something of a surprise. Over the weekend, his lawyer had said Zimmerman might remain behind bars until the middle of this week as his team worked to secure funds to meet the $150,000 bond set Friday.

With the 10% cash payment customarily made to secure bond, Zimmerman's family needed $15,000 for him to make bail.

Prosecutors had asked that Zimmerman's bond be set at no less than $1 million, citing a 2005 scrape with a police officer and a domestic violence injunction against Zimmerman.

Martin, 17, was shot after Zimmerman called authorities to report a suspicious person walking around his Sanford neighborhood.

Reprinted with permission from WESH

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