SANFORD -- Police Chief Bill Lee, who has been under fire for his department's handling of the Trayvon Martin case, has been fired, according to his spokesperson.
Lee's spokesperson, Sara Brady, confirmed the news Thursday. She says city manager Norton Bonaparte terminated Lee, but the details have not been finalized.
In a statement issued late Wednesday evening, Bonaparte 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."
Lee has been accused of overruling a detective's recommendation that George Zimmerman be arrested the night Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin.
Lee has been on paid leave since March 22 when stepped aside temporarily while the investigation into Trayvon Martin's death by George Zimmerman went on.
Former Colorado Springs Police Chief Richard Myers took over the department as interim chief, but Lee was never terminated.
He will receive severance of three months and one week’s salary, per his employment agreement.
Lee's continued employment with the department has angered some Sanford residents. The president of Sanford's NAACP chapter has said that there can be no healing until Lee was fired.
The city has been conducting a nationwide search for a permanent chief, a process Bonaparte expects to take several months.
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