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. Dan

    The mans job was to keep his eye out for strangers. He was injured that is proof of self defense. Unarmed is irrelevant. A witness saw someone in a white shirt on top of someone. He was able to do bodily harm and did it. It may have been he was insulted by being a suspect and attacked the man who was only doing his duty. The words that were spoken are irrelevant. Black it seems is now a defense for everything and a policeman using the wrong word decides innocence or guilt. Lets wait for the facts to come out

    March 21, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • LaKeshia

      It seems like you have not been paying attention to whats going on because nothing you said made any sense.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boat

      Can you be so sure that Martin wasn't the one defending himself?

      March 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • jvanfire

      The man did not have a "job" or a "duty" He was a volunteer with a chip on his shoulder looking for trouble to go with his permitted piece.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • miguel

      RIdiculous. By any standard, an honest assessment of the *words* involved indicates that Zimmerman had determined, at first sight, that Martin was a criminal who didn't belong there. Any assessment of the *words* involved suggests that Zimmerman chose to follow, an ultimately chase down another citizen who was both 1) innocent of any crime, and 2) apparently in fear of the man who seemed to be stalking and ultimately chasing him. By any assessment of the *words* involved, it's Martin, and not Zimmerman, with the more obvious claim to self-defense. It's also Martin who's dead.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Dan, it's degenerative ignorance, with a racist predisposition, like yours that obscures the facts and reaches conclusions that only support your already twisted reality. You probably have some latent fear or loathing of black people that clouds your thinking. You are a sad individual.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • another1

      you are so wrong. First, it is not the "duty" of neighborhood watch to go around shooting people. He was told by police to stand down, but he ignored that and chased the kid anyway. There is no proof that zimmermans wounds were not self inflicted after the fact to make his story seem plausible. he had a gun and could have pistolwhipped himself to make it look like he was attacked. You seem to be a racist and trying to protect a murderer of an unarmed youth. you and people like you are the problem with this country.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Antonio

      Dan obviously your in your world. Black man shoots white boy in self defense, black man goes to jail! Fifty years ago, point your finger and say it was that black guy, case closed!!! DNA 30 years later reveals this man was wrongfully accused. It's still a black and white world! A young boy walking down the street with a hoodie is not justification to approach him because he's not from that neighborhood.

      March 21, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Stew

    The shooter sounds imparied, perhaps the responding officers should have conducted a alcohol and drug screen on the shooter instead of the dead teenager.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ronald Brown

    It is just that people are hearing what they wnat to hear. sounds alot like another case, Rodney King, if the black community does not get what they want they will riot and force the type of justice they accuse others of. Force it down there throats. funny no current picturesw of Trayvon just old pictures. what kind of hoodlum was he when this happened.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • another1

      wow, amazing how this story brings out all the racists like yourself to defend a murderer.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Hey Ronald, you probably live near Dan, or at least share his thoughts which makes you mental neighbors. You appear to be a prejudiced, closet racist that blames minorities (particularly African Americans) for your own underachievement. You are probably the type of person who hides behind his computer screen and hurls insults, but wouldn't have the nerve to confront a real hoodlum if he was assaulting your wife or girlfriend. Did you secretly cheer when Deryl Dedmon ran over and killed the man in Mississippi?

      March 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dk

    Anyone could make fake injury after murdering I don;t buy this argument.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Swaszie McBooboo

    This all the white devils fault. The white devils have been do this stuff to us African American folks since the evil white folks stole it from the red man. All of you white devils will be paid back in kind for all of the suffering you devils have given to the world's people of color.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Swaszie McBooboo, or whatever your real name is, are you really going "Yakub" on us? Wow. You went old school to the old Nation of Islam racist rhetoric that claimed that Yakub created white devils nearly 7,000 years ago. You can do better than that in light of the gravity of this horrific situation. Hatred is colorblind. Ignorance knows no limits. Only the trans-formative power of God can cleanse our souls and replace vitriol and hatred with love and tolerance. It's time to bury Yakub Swaszie McBooboo. Does your driver's license have that name on it?

      March 21, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Swaszie McBooboo

      To Tony or whatever. I guess it was ok for the European Jews after their holocaust to steal – with the help of the white devils of this country- the land that rightfully belonged to the Palestinians who are not all Muslim but also Christian.

      March 21, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Master

    I stand 6;4 250 and would of punch Zimmernam and block right off his head. Im worked out just about all my life and If some one like Zimmerman was to follow me and I say stop and pray before you get to close.Prop to all the chicken head racist on this page.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. dk

    After murderng fake injuries could be done easily. I think shooter said someting like "these as*holes ..." was stereotyping on based on something. And police asked not to follow specious person then why did follow?

    March 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Black&White Seperatists

    Isn't it odd that if it's a "white" kid (if you look, we are pink, not white) the story just says 'kid'. But if it's a "black" kid (if you look close, black isn't a color), even if the story doesn't say "black", most readers do. Blacks&Whites fanning the flames of racism, betrayed by their own words.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Marisa

    Stan, where do you get they were 'fighting over the gun"? Even if they were, Zimmerman was the agressor, and brought the gun, and Trayvon was defending HIMSELF. That neighborhood didn't even HAVE a Neighborhood Watch. Just a paranoid freak with a gun. AND if the HOA knew he was arming himself vigilante style to guard the neighborhood, they should be held accountable too.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. T

    He followed the kid even after police told him not to. Zimmerman was the one looking for trouble, not Martin. Yes, I heard the racial slur. Heaven help us all. So much hate in this world.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. S

    dont need much audio enhancement for that – it's "f'ing wogs" or "f'ing dogs" – pretty sure its one or the other.
    Regardless, its another tragic example of why the US needs better gun control laws.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. NorthernLight

    Question for CNN......do you really review posts before they are posted? Please let me know.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Raymond

    No one can tell if a racial slur was used – CNN however seems certain that the recording is of a racial slur. CNN is clearly pandering to the AA community. CNN is no different than a politician.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • davekingpt

      I disagree with the idea that CNN is pandering. I've seen several anchors cover this part of the story today and they all stated that it's difficult to hear anything at all. The closest anyone has come to saying that a slur was used was when the reporter in the sound room agreed that it *sounds like" the slur. But he also stated that without the enhanced sound frequencies it sounded like nothing at all.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • stanley

      "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."

      CNN is hardly "certain" about anything.

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

      Pandering to the AA community? WOW. Its interesting how so many who are not "AA" as you call it, seems to want to downplay what was going on. If you listen to even Zimmerman's previous calls to the police department prior to this murder, he continuously generalizes and makes reckless statements about "they" and "them". In one recording he infers that two previous described individuals are back, simply because they fit the description...you and black. That's enough, beyond a racial slur, the face that Zimmerman killed a black boy is enough. You can downplay what you want.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Uriyah Robinson

      ......So a young innocent "AA" was killed for not apparent reason and you call it "pandering"? It is people with mindsets such as yours that keeps our country in this constant battle of injustice.

      March 21, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      the article is inferring that there is currently a debate that a slur was used. How in the hell did you read that otherwise?!

      March 21, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nestor

    You guys are funny. It really does not matter what was said, if a racial slur was used or not. A man is dead.The problem is the law. Its crazy. And you people have WAAAY too many guns. There is a shooting on CNN every week. I mean, when are you going to get it straight. The GUNS are the problem, man. Its the GUNS!!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      You are soooooooooooooooo naive. People who blame inanimate objects are soooooooooooooo stupid. It has NOTHING to do with guns...you just have an agenda to promote. As old and worn out as many people like to believe it is...the truth and reality is: Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Until you anti-gun do-gooders get this through your heads and attack the REAL problem (people), murders, homicides and suicides will go on with or without guns. Get a clue...please.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorthernLight

      Yes you nailed it, People are missing the mark,. The ultimate traget is NO guns,,,that's what it is all about.

      March 21, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Clark

    Leave it alone already! You're fanning the flames. Oh, but that's what makes us look.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
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