Sanford, Florida, Police Chief Bill Lee was fired Wednesday by Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte, his spokeswoman Sara Brady said.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Lee temporarily stepped down on March 22 and submitted a resignation letter in April that was rejected by Sanford City commissioners 3-2. The majority blamed the uproar surrounding Martin’s death on outsiders and debated Lee’s status for more than an hour, with Commissioners Patty Mahany and Randy Jones repeatedly making the case that Lee did not deserve to lose his job. They were joined by Mayor Jeff Triplett in the vote.
“I take no pleasure in publicly flogging our police chief. He’s a good man,” said City Commissioner Mark McCarty.
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.
Trayvon’s parents both voiced their lack of faith in the Sanford PD after George Zimmerman was not arrested on the night of their son’s murder. The department also lied to the family about Zimmerman’s previous police record. As previously reported by NewsOne, in the weeks following Trayvon’s death, Lee received death threats, with one man, John Carnduff Stewart, being arrested and fitted with an electronic tracking device.
Lee took over after the previous chief was forced out following an outcry over the beating of a black man in downtown Sanford by a white man who is a police officer’s son. The police did not arrest the man, even though the beating was captured on video.