Bill Lee Jr., chief of police in Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was shot, has temporarily stepped down after a no-confidence vote against him. "I must temporarily remove myself," he said in a press conference broadcast live on CNN, saying his presence was a distraction. "It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process." He didn't take any questions.
The U.S. Department of Justice opened an investigation into the department after The New York Times raised questions about the department's response to Martin's shooting death by a neighborhood watch captain. Martin was black, the watch captain, George Zimmerman, is Latino. The Sanford City Commission voted on Wednesday that it had no confidence in Lee as a chief, after his department did not arrest Zimmerman, who claimed he fired in self-defense.
Martin's case has become a national issue, with demonstrations taking to streets nationwide on Wednesday in a protest against racial profiling called the Million Hoodie March. Martin, a 17-year-old high school junior, was wearing a hoodie when he was shot. Zimmerman said he felt threatened. Police didn't press a homicide case against him under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law which, as the Associated Press describes it, "gives people wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat during a fight."
The Rev. Al Sharpton had demanded Lee's ouster, and is leading a rally for Martin in Sanford later on Thursday.