March 21st, 2012
03:00 PM ET

Did Trayvon Martin's shooter use a racial slur?

As outrage over the killing of a Florida teenager continues to spread online, social media and news outlets are debating whether the shooter uttered a racial epithet in one of his 911 calls. And if so, what he might have said.

Zimmerman, whom authorities described as white and family members say is Hispanic, said he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense, according to police. Martin, who was black, was walking to his father’s fiancee’s house in Sanford, Florida, after a trip to a convenience store and was not armed.

Many people at CNN have listened repeatedly to the call but have been unable to reach any consensus on what was said. An audio engineer enhanced the sound on the 911 call but said it was difficult to improve the quality or to replicate the background noise. CNN continues to analyze the tape and consult outside experts.

Sanford police haven’t confirmed what was said on the recording but deny a news report they overlooked a racist remark during the investigation.

“I said we didn’t hear it; however, I am not sure what was said,” Sanford Police Sgt. David Morgenstern told CNN. “So I never said we missed a racist remark.

“I’m not sure what was said. I heard something, but again, not clear as to what was said. I did not hear it until it was pointed out to me.”

In the video above, listen to a nonenhanced recording of relevant audio of Zimmerman’s call at 1:48, after he says, "He's running."

Tell us in the comments: Do you hear a racial slur?

Post by:
Filed under: Florida • Justice • Trayvon Martin • U.S.
soundoff (928 Responses)
  1. joe702

    Wow cnn, you keep trying to make this a black-white thing when clearly this guy is latino. Your news network has become a bad joke. The racial hype you are trying to generate is shameful. I guess it makes for a better story huh?

    March 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hahaha

      Joe, are you drunk? Are you saying Latino's can't be racist as well? IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT RACE THIS MAN IS.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      There are white hispanics and black hispanics. Hispanic is NOT a race.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. VinnyB

    That man should be investigated and held accountable for the death of that boy. He was playing "cop" and had no right to shoot and kill that boy. He was TOLd NOT TO RUN AFTER THE BOY but he did it anyway. He has to held accountable.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Texan

    Alright, all Blacks need to stop looking at this as racism. If anything goes wrong or doesn't go their way, it's automatically blamed on cause their black. I got news for you. Blacks are probally the most racist race out of all. Blacks get away with much more than anyone else. Blacks think they got it bad? Come to Texas. Hispanics get treated the worst. And you know what? There are racist hispanics out there, but most of them are so grateful to be here and act like civilized citizens because they know their life here is 100 times better than where they came from. All in all, stop the crying about being Black and discriminated against. That family lost a son. No matter what color you are or where you're from, he didn't deserve to die. There is no need to bring race or culture into this. I can only figure that people are doing this for recognition for...?

    March 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texanisright

      Texan hit it out of the park. Not PC, but absolutely right in my experience.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike in SA

    Doesn't even sound like the same two people on this tape.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Texan

    You weren't there. I'm guessing your black???

    March 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. angel611

    I have a very high end sound system connected to my computer. I used studio headphones so see what was said.
    It sounds to me like he said " these f'n cokes" (meaning crack addicts). In fact it does not even sound like Zimmerman or the phone call itself, I think it could be another call that got in the phone system thought the cell tower (cross talk) or the recording somehow on the 911 dispatcher end.
    Either way I hear nothing that is close to a raciist term even thoughI think Zimmerman should be arrested and tried.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cleavon

    I don't know how anyone is getting Koon from this audiotape, the closet it comes to is Cops, or Cogs, or possibly cuffs or kocks

    March 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. nancybrad

    Obama is creating so much racial hatred!! civil war is possible

    March 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      really Obama...lets be real..this has nothing to do with are just a little upset that he's black...this hatred for black people has been around should know..I feel it coming through your little comment..I bet you even tan your make it darker..yet you have something against wake up its 2012..get a reality check..we have a black with it...

      March 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOL

      Could you be more stupid? I don't think so.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yesorno

      Why do fools blame the Presidents for this craps? U.S. was build by racist and will be destroyed the their kids.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Obama? LOL. Racism was invented by Obama? Please explain: Slavery....the Civil War.....Jim Crow laws (you even
      know what I'm talking about?). Stupidity is not an excuse.......but in your case....................LOL. You're issue with people of color is your problem – don't make it ours.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachael

      Seriously? How is Obama creating racial hatred???? Because he is half black?

      March 21, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • SafeJourney

      No, its people like you that are creating the hatred in America

      March 21, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • ramos

      The President has not caused racial divisions. You, and others equally close minded, are those who spew racial hate and provoke discord.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. KLW

    first of all ...these people know if the shoe was on the other foot and Zimmerman was left laying on the ground dead that Martin would be sitting in jail...this is a racial situation..bc people think that every black male they see are up to no good..or every black person period is under some type of stereotype...if that's the case...lets start characterizing other races according to stereotypes...people stop being ignorant and if you are not a person of color you cannot know what it feels like to be looked at because of the color of your skin...R.I.P Trayvon...hopefully justice will be served..if not in this life..then the next..believe me Zimmerman will have his judgement day.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • snod123

      You poor person. I'm so sorry it's such a cruel world. Do you blame all of your problems on your skin color or do you save some blame for your parents, neighborhood, preacher, etc.?

      March 21, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. me now

    All ebonic names are racial slurs!!!!!!!!!! If he said the name Trayvon, it is a slur!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Texan

    Good try @BRIAN RICHARDS that was so fake lol wowwww good one. The regular one says punk... nice editing though.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. snod123

    Does it matter if he used a slur? Is he more or less guilty of murder then? Would you be more upset if your killer called you names before shooting you?

    March 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachael

      It matters because if the state of Florida won't do something about this then the FBI can if it is a hate crime.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Texan

    Your obviously high....

    March 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bobby

    You have local State, and Fed's now investigating. Still no arrest. It shows you this is not an easy case and emotion by folks is not going to be the reason as arrest is made. Authorities have to be pretty darn sure that a murder was committed before they charge murder. I trust our justice system will do its job.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hahaha

      Sadly, there have been other instances where they weren't "so darn sure", and an arrest was made. The American justice system has serious flaws.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ike San Antonio

    If anything the state of Florida really needs to decide to do something and soon or else their will be a rash of "self-defense" murders in the state. last I checked if there was a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed the suspect was atleast detained. As a NRA lifetime member, a licensed concealed weapons carrier and serving 3 tours to Iraq and 2 tours to Afganistan i feel this dude should fry for a hate crime. The kid posed no threat to zimmermans well being if anything zimmerman placed himself in harms way if he felt threatened. challeging a kid with skittles and a can of tea is a p+++y thing to do.... I think ill move to zimmermans area and see if he likes being chased by some one with no authoritative decals or uniform. But again if Florida wants bigger problems... Let this man go free!!! and we will all suffer, because this man clearly violated not only the civil rights of this kid, but he is a danger to the well being of all men being profiled. On another note I feel threatned by zimmerman, his freedom, and existance. Asa tax paying man and a server to this fine country if this man should walk free I have lost all confidence in the state to protect and serve because obviously justice does not exsist.......!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
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