published Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Florida police chief steps down temporarily

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  • photo
    Mary Scott wipes away tears while recounting the shooting death of her son Nicholas Eugene Trevose Scott by Sanford police in 2010 during an open forum on police misconduct, sponsored by the NAACP, in Sanford, Fla., Wednesday, March 21, 2012. The event was held in response to reaction after teenager Trayvon Martin was recently shot and killed by a neighborhood watch captain and the lack of charges filed by police in the city.(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KYLE HIGHTOWER, Associated Press

SANFORD, Fla. — The police chief at the center of a fatal neighborhood watch shooting says he is stepping down temporarily because he has become a distraction.

Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee made the announcement at a news conference Thursday. Lee has been criticized after police did not arrest George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot an unarmed black teen to death on Feb. 26.

The police chief has said authorities were prohibited from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time of the shooting.

Zimmerman claims the shooting was self-defense. He told police 17-year-old Trayvon Martin attacked him after he had given up on chasing the teenager and was returning to his sport utility vehicle.

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