July 11th, 2013
11:47 AM ET

CNN Exclusive: Former Sanford, FL Police Chief Speaks Out

The night Trayvon Martin was fatally shot, police took George Zimmerman into custody for questioning. He claimed self-defense, police believed his account and he walked as a free man.

But then something changed.

Former Sanford police chief Bill Lee, who was forced to step down in the wake of the Sanford police department's investigation of George Zimmerman, says the investigation was hijacked.

According to Lee, he was pressured to make an arrest even though he felt there wasn't enough evidence.

CNN’s George Howell sat down with Lee to learn more.

“The laws of the state of Florida and the Constitution require you to have probable cause to arrest someone," Lee says. "The evidence and the testimony that we had didn't get us to probable cause."

At the time, Martin's parents hired civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump and made persistent demands that Zimmerman be arrested, causing an uproar.

Police then passed the case to the state attorney's office, Howell reports. The governor assigned it to special prosecutor Angela Cory, who charged George Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

It was out of Lee’s hands. “That investigation was taken away from us," he says. "We weren't able to complete it."

Lee believes he ended up taking the fall. He was temporarily suspended and later fired after only ten months on the job.

"I believe it was political pressure and the fact that I upheld my oath,” Lee says.

Tune in to CNN, and follow along at CNN.com for more on the interview as the trial continues.

What do you think? Was this fair or unfair to Lee? Leave comments below.

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