The city commissioners of Sanford, Fla., have voted to not accept the resignation of Police Chief Bill Lee Jr. because of criticism about his department's handling of the Trayvon Martin shooting case. The surprise vote came hours after the city manager and the mayor had announced that Lee, who stepped aside last month after a no-confidence vote, would be leaving permanently.
Two commissioners said it appeared from Lee's separation agreement that he was being forced out, and that he had violated no law or policy. He will remain on administrative leave pending the results of an outside review of the department's investigation. That could take three to four months, city officials said.
Lee took a temporary leave in March after the department did not press charges following the shooting of the unarmed black teen in a gated community. A state prosecutor later filed second-degree murder charges against neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who has claimed self-defense.
A city statement released earlier said City Manager Norton Bonaparte would ask the City Commission to make the Lee's removal permanent at a special hearing, effective at midnight.
The drama came on the day Zimmerman, 28, was released on bail.
Also today, Judge Kenneth Lester released almost two dozen documents related to the case after national and local news media petitioned the court, Bello reports.
In one of the court documents, Zimmerman's lawyer requested the defendant be allowed to leave Central Florida. In a motion to request bond for his client, attorney Mark O'Mara requested Zimmerman's whereabouts be kept private by the court, the State Attorney's Office and the police.
Zimmerman was whisked away early today to an undisclosed location.
O'Mara said in the documents that Zimmerman is unemployed because of the news media's attention and threats he and his family received. The papers said it is unlikely Zimmerman will look for work when he is released. Zimmerman has no financial assets or savings. The court papers said the bond would be paid for by his family.
A redacted list of exhibits also included documents from two previous altercations Zimmerman had in 2005.
One was for an arrest for obstructing justice and resisting arrest after an argument with a police officer who was arresting a friend of his at a bar. The other was an injunction against Zimmerman by his former fiance after several arguments in which the woman said he pushed her and hit her.
The court records also include a request that Zimmerman be allowed to attend court in civilian clothes, instead of shackled in prison garb, to motions related to his release on bond