Before becoming the chief of the Sanford police department, Bill Lee, Jr. was associate dean of the School of Public Safety at Seminole State College, the same school that recently expelled George Zimmerman.
There is no evidence they ever met. Zimmerman attended Seminole State sporadically starting in 2003. According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel, he re-enrolled in a general studies program in 2009, though previous reports have indicated he was studying “criminal justice.”
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Lee’s application for police chief in 2011 indicates he was associate dean at the school from 2009 until he accepted the job as Sanford’s top cop last spring.
TheGrio left messages at the home, cell and email accounts of Chief Lee, requesting comment.
Lee stepped aside temporarily more than a week ago, amid an uproar over the police department’s failure to arrest Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17.
TheGrio reported this week that Lee went to the scene of the February 26th shooting, and a source tells theGrio that Lee and his investigations chief, Robert O’Connor, met in person with State Attorney Norman Wolfinger before the decision to release Zimmerman was made, despite a recommendation from the lead homicide investigator that he should be charged.
Recently released video reveals Zimmerman walking into the police station, but his appearance has raised questions about the injuries his father and surrogates say he suffered.
In response to inquiries spokesman for Seminole State College told NBC News last week that Zimmerman’s student record is protected by federal regulations. “Without his consent, I cannot release this information,” Seminole State communications director Jay Davis said.
Davis also released the following statement regarding Lee’s tenure:
Bill Lee was an adjunct instructor at Seminole State College of Florida beginning in 1990. He became director of the college’s Center for Public Safety in summer 2009, a position he held until May 2011. He is not presently teaching at the college.
Lee taught courses as part of the college’s Criminal Justice Academy. Zimmerman was not enrolled in the academy and did not attend these classes.
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