Lee’s predecessor, Brian Tooley, was forced from office last year following a scandal involving a lieutenant’s son who was captured on video attacking a homeless black man. Police officers reportedly questioned him but did not arrest him. The officer’s son, Justin Collison, 21, later turned himself in after the video surfaced on YouTube and was charged in the attack.
Collison's family paid an undisclosed sum to the homeless man, Sherman Ware, and Ware asked prosecutors to drop the case. They didn't, and Collison eventually pleaded no contest and received probation, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
But the 2005 killing of a black teenager, Travares McGill, by two white security guards, one the son of a Sanford Police officer, drove city race relations to a modern low, according to some black residents.
Early one summer morning, security guards Patrick Swofford and Bryan Ansley saw McGill dropping off a group of friends in the parking lot of the apartment complex they were hired to guard, according to published reports. They claimed McGill tried to run them down, and both fired, later claiming self-defense. McGill was pronounced dead at the scene. Swofford was a police department volunteer and Ansley is the son of a former veteran of the force.
The pair was arrested and charged, Swofford with manslaughter and Ansley with firing into an occupied vehicle. But a judge later cited lack of evidence and dismissed both cases. According to autopsy reports, McGill suffered fatal gunshot wounds to the back, and it was unclear if the pair was in danger.
“People are outraged because they never recovered from the last shooting, or recovered from the beating a year or so ago with the policeman’s son,” said Turner. “All of these things are escalating and simmering, and it’s going to reach a point where it’s going to explode.”