ORLANDO, Fla. — The Sanford city commission rejected the resignation of the police chief harshly criticized for his handling of the Trayvon Martin case.

The commissioners voted 3-2 Monday to reject the resignation of Bill Lee. The majority blamed the uproar surrounding Martin’s death on outsiders.

Police did not initially charge 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who says he shot the 17-year-old Martin in self-defense.

Florida law gives people broad leeway to use lethal force if they believe their lives are in grave danger. The Feb. 26 shooting sparked protests nationwide, as well as debates about the laws and race. Martin was black; Zimmerman is the son of a white father and Hispanic mother.

Lee temporarily stepped down as police chief on March 22, saying he wanted to let tensions cool.

He was set to permanently step down from his post today, but city commissioners — who previously gave Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee a vote of “no confidence” — were required to approve the resignation before it could formally take effect.

“The city has experienced great turmoil in the past two months and we are hoping to stabilize the department and continue with this time of healing,” City Manager Norton Bonaparte said earlier.

Meanwhile, Martin’s parents published a “Card of Thanks” in The Miami Herald obituary page Sunday. The note says Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin express their appreciation for all the public’s support since their son’s death. The notice includes a photograph of Trayvon Martin dressed in a hooded sweatshirt, similar to one he was wearing the evening he was killed.

“Words will never express how your love, support and prayers lifted our spirits and continue to give us the strength to march on,” the letter says.