In one small step toward justice for Trayvon Martin, the chief of police of Sanford, Florida was fired on Wednesday. Martin, an unarmed teenager, was shot and killed on February 26th while walking through the housing complex where his father lived. Police Chief Bill Lee was heavily criticized across the nation for mishandling the case—primarily for not arresting George Zimmerman, the man who shot the youth. A self-appointed neighborhood watch volunteer, Zimmerman invoked Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law to justify his action.
Sanford’s City Manager, Norton Bonaparte issued a news release, following a meeting with Bill Lee, that said, “After much thoughtful discussion and deep consideration for the issues facing the city of Sanford, I have determined the police chief needs to have the trust and respect of the elected officials and the confidence of the entire community. 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.”
Soon after the killing, Lee took a leave of absence and offered to resign, but the city council refused to accept his resignation. Nevertheless, he went on leave and an interim police chief, Rick Myers, was brought in from Colorado on May 4th. Myers’ goal was to reach out to Sanford residents who felt ignored by the police department and help the community to heal. He’ll continue in his position until a search for a permanent replacement has been completed.
The city manager said, “I believe that there are many law enforcement officials who will find accepting the opportunity to serve as Sanford’s Police Chief a welcome challenge for their careers. I expect the search for a new chief to take several months.”
After the news of the firing was made public, Daryl Parks, attorney for Trayvon Martin’s parents, also made a statement . He said, “It’s important that we really believe that, as all of this has unfolded, we’ve continued to move closer to justice.”