Trayvon Martin case: Sanford police chief Bill Lee fired


Sanford Police Department Chief Bill Lee (L) speaks while announcing he will temporarily step down in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing as Sanford city manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. (R) stands by on March 22, 2012, in Sanford, Fla.


Mario Tama

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee, the man responsible for the initial investigation into the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, has been fired.

City officials feared Lee did not have the public's support after his department failed to arrest the shooter, George Zimmerman, who claimed the right to self-defense under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

More from GlobalPost: Full coverage of the Trayvon Martin case

"The police chief needs to have the trust and respect of the elected officials and the confidence of the entire community," Sanford city manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. said in a statement. 

"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."

Lee stepped aside temporarily back in March, saying that his position had become "a distraction" from the ongoing investigation.

He submitted his full resignation in April, but city commissioners voted not to accept it. At the time, Commissioner Patty Mahany described him as "one of the finest police officers in Florida."

Representatives for the Martin family said they "respected" the decision to fire him, according to CNN.

"It's important that we really believe that, as all of this has unfolded, we've continued to move closer to justice," attorney Daryl Parks told the network.

Zimmerman is now in jail facing charges of second-degree murder.