In an interview with CNN, former Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee explained that he was fired from his post for trying to conduct an objective investigation into the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Lee told CNN that he decided not to arrest George Zimmerman because doing so would be a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. “The evidence and testimony that we had didn’t get us to probable cause,” said Lee, referring to the constitutional criteria required before making an arrest.
Lee was repeatedly asked by the Sanford City Manager, “Can an arrest be made now?” and he was at one point told by a City Commissioner: “We just want an arrest.”
The decision not to charge Zimmerman prompted a media storm, as news pundits charged that the Sanford Police Department acted in a negligent or even racist manner. According to Lee, the politicization of the investigation led media outlets to release misleading and sensitive pieces of evidence that suggested Zimmerman racially profiled and targeted Martin.
In June of last year, Lee was officially fired by the Sanford City government, and a special prosecutor was appointed by the governor who charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder. Looking back, Lee said that he remains proud of his actions: “I upheld my oath to abide by the laws of the state of Florida and the constitution, and I’m happy that at the end of the day I can walk away with my integrity.”