Ex-Sanford police chief slams Zimmerman investigation as politically driven, fired for not charging Zimmerman
When Sanford police arrived on the scene on February 26, 2012, after Zimmerman fatally shot unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, they conducted a "sound" investigation, and the evidence provided no probable cause to arrest Zimmerman at the scene, he said.
It had nothing to do with Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law, he said; from an investigative standpoint, it was purely a matter of self-defense. . . .
It was a matter of protocol, Lee said. Arresting Zimmerman based on the evidence at hand would have been a violation of Zimmerman's Fourth Amendment rights, he said. Thus, the Sanford police presented a "capias request" to the state's attorney, asking that the prosecutor determine whether it was a "justifiable homicide," issue a warrant for arrest or present the case to a grand jury.
"The police department needed to do a job, and there was some influence -- outside influence and inside influence -- that forced a change in the course of the normal criminal justice process," Lee said. "With all the influence and the protests and petitions for an arrest, you still have to uphold you oath."
"That investigation was taken away from us. We weren't able to complete it," he said.
One example involved the 911 tapes, in which neighbors implored dispatchers to send police as a voice in the background screamed for help.
The Sanford police intended to release the tapes once the probe was over, Lee said, because you can't publicize evidence amid an investigation.
Instead, the mayor told him on March 16 the tapes had been released to Martin's family and the public. The family was asked to help identify voices, Lee said, but if police were in charge of the investigation, they wouldn't have presented evidence to a group. . . .There is a reference by CNN to the lead detective recommending manslaughter, but CNN leaves out the fact that the detective later said that he believed Zimmerman's version of events. It seems pretty obvious that if this investigation wasn't taken away from the Sanford police department, Zimmerman would never have been charged in the case.
Here is the money quote:
"I'm happy that at the end of the day I can walk away with my integrity." Ex-Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee.
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