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Sanford police chief steps down temporarily over Trayvon Martin case

BREAKING:  Bill Lee, the police chief at the center of a fatal shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old black teen, is "temporarily" stepping down as police chief of the city of Sanford, Florida, while the case is being investigated, he announced this afternoon.

Lee was criticized after police did not arrest George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Trayvon Martin to death on Feb. 26 while Martin was on his way home from buy candy at a nearby store.  Zimmerman claims the shooting was self-defense.

"As a former homicide investigator, a career law enforcement officer and a father, I am keenly aware of the emotions associated with this tragic death of a child. I'm also aware that my role as a leader of this agency has become a distraction from the investigation," Lee said.

The shooting has sparked national attention with several protests.  And the Sanford City Commission voted 3-2 yesterday that it had no confidence in Lee over how the case has been handled.

"I must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford. I do this in the hopes of restoring some semblance of calm to a city which has been in turmoil for several weeks," Lee said this afternoon. "It is my hope that the investigation will move forward swiftly and appropriately through the justice system and that a final determination in this case is reached."

Two captains will head the department until an interim chief can be found, according to City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr.

Ed will have extensive coverage of the latest developments in the tragedy tonight on The Ed Show at 8pET on MSNBC.