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?

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

    Yeap, he said it. People is going to heard what they want to hear even if what they said the heard do not even make sense. Anyway this piece of human trash should be looked up under ground.

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

    The Feds will figure out what was said.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. achepotle

    USA is one messed up country...racial hatred has eaten your brain like syphilis. Time to break up and split into sane states and hate states...syre, they will get most of the sun, but the sane states will have schools and hospitals!

    March 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • alphamale38

      I dont get it. Are you on drugs or something? USA = #1 today, tomorrow, forever.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • JamieIRL

      Not even, we get California and Hawaii, and at least SOME of Florida.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gary

    Its very obvious that what Mr. Zimmerman said under his breath was a racist statement. However whats also troubling is that he acknowledged that he did not need to pursue Trayvon to the operator, but he did it anyway. How do you act like you're above the law, and the professionals who are paid to respond to these situations every day that they report to work (911 operators included)? How do you claim self defense against someone that you confronted in that manner? Mr. Zimmerman gives a bad name to those who lawfully abide by the provisions allowed by the second amendment and those that have served to protect it.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • charlie tuna

      You heard what??? What Are you hoping for? What does that make you???

      March 21, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      Poooonks, yeah that must be what he said. Riiiiight?!?

      March 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. achepotle

    "Lookie here, I say, I believe we may have a quadroon loose in the neighbourhood."

    March 21, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. plums

    He said. My plums.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SafeJourney

    Zimmerman was told by the Police dispatcher NOT to follow Trayvon.
    Zimmerman is the aggressor and a murderer

    March 21, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Nadroj

    It definitely sounds like "f-ing punks" to me. You guys might want to listen closer, I don't agree with what happened but you shouldn't be just making it about race because you want to be able to call someone racist

    March 21, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tron

    Zimmerman is Cuban, CNN is usiing the race card to sell this story or their would be no story (who wants to hear about a Cuban killing a Cuban)? It would be class warfare instead of racism, and that is not news.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jerry

    I could not make out what was said, it is very diffricult to understand.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Objective

    In my opinion he definitely said it.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lc

    I hear "punks" .....but maybe cnn and everyone else should leave it to professionals. Maybe then they could stop calling this guy a racist.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • charlie tuna

      Bravo someone not willing to put words in someones mouth

      March 21, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kim

    That's an easy one – very clear to me. "These f-ing punks." is what he clearly says under his breath. I am listening with ear phones to the isolated call and without a doubt that's exactly what he says. Who the hell said he was using a racial slur there? Someone trying to stir up even more trouble because they like the excitement. Congrats.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ddblah

    Hey, man, time to buy a gun and join neighborhood watch and shoot a kid or two.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. me138

    who cares if he used a slur. the kid is dead dont think a slur is the problem here.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soe Naing

      This reminds me of my own experience. Soon after I arrived to the US, I started working in a car-wash in summer of 1990 somewhere in NJ. My uncle usually dropped me there and picked me up. But one day, he couldn't. So I walked home, and got lost in small roads in the huge sub-division where we lived. I asked a guy for direction, and he gave me. But he added "Don't come back" – without asking me first where I lived (in that subdivision).

      That guy could be a neighborhood volunteer. Lucky he didn't shoot me.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      I matters because if it can be determined it was a hate crime, then the feds can prosecute. It's in the article if you want to read it.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
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