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Sanford Police chief fired in wake of Trayvon Martin case

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Posted at 8:54 PM, Jun 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-20 20:54:24-04
(CNN) — Sanford, Florida, Police Chief Bill Lee, who drew criticism for his department’s actions in the Trayvon Martin case, was fired Wednesday, his spokeswoman said.

Spokeswoman Sara Brady said Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte made the decision.

Lee had submitted a resignation letter in April that said he was stepping down, but city commissioners voted not to accept it.

In March, he had said he was stepping down temporarily in the wake of the public furor over the failure of the police to arrest George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who has said his shooting of Martin on February 26 was an act of self-defense.

Also Wednesday, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office released 911 tapes of calls placed the morning after the shooting, when police had still not identified the 17-year–old victim. He was unarmed and carrying no identification when he was shot while walking to his father’s girlfriend’s house after picking up some snacks at a nearby store.

In the first call, Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, calls police at 8:39 a.m. asking to file a missing persons report, which typically would not be accepted until 24 hours after a person has been discovered missing. “It hasn’t really been 24 hours,” he tells the police dispatcher. “But I’m from Miami and my son’s up here with me … he don’t know anybody up here.”

In the return call, placed nine minutes later, the dispatcher tells the victim’s father that an officer is en route to where he was staying.

Lee had said Zimmerman was not charged in the shooting because there were no grounds to disprove his account of the events — that Martin had attacked him. Since then, Zimmerman has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

The incident sparked a national debate as to whether the shooting was an act of racial profiling by Zimmerman and about the state’s “stand-your-ground” law.