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Mar 22, 2012 4:42 PM by Kirsten Bennett

Chief steps down after neighborhood watch shooting

SANFORD, Fla. (AP) - 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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