Police chief in slain Florida teenager case steps down

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2012 4:18 PM

SANFORD, Florida (Reuters) - The police chief of Sanford, Florida said on Thursday he was "temporarily" stepping down, saying his role in the investigation of the killing of an unarmed teenager had become too much of a distraction.

Police Chief Bill Lee had been heading the investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, who was black, by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, 28.

The case has drawn national attention and sparked debate over Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Police far have declined to arrest Zimmerman.

Lee called himself a "distraction" and said "it is apparent that my involvement in the matter is overshadowing the process."

Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. said he was starting a search for an interim police chief.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch and Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Tim Gaynor)