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. pazke

    Hispanic is not a race. The police identified him as a white male. CNN is not trying to whiten him up, he is trying to brown himself up to make it less likely that he would racially profile.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
    • OrlandoGuy

      Exactly. Thanks for making this clear for people.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
    • SirDaBasher

      No , no ,NO

      You are not white m you are Hispanic , different features , if you are white , so are the Pakistanis

      March 22, 2012 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. pkt729

    I definitely heard it. If I were the police in the case I would arrest Zimmerman before he kills another innocent victim .

    March 22, 2012 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. Beatrix

    What about the story that there are two versions of the tape? The one the TV station released that that language and the one the cops did, didn't have it? What happened with that story?

    March 22, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |

    It was his slave name.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dustin

    are you kidding me? its clear as a bell!

    March 22, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Jammaster

      Yep, I heard it too. Of course the racists will play the "denial card".

      March 22, 2012 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. Betty Carter

    You are absolutely correct!

    March 22, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |

    No, the media isn't slanted -a pic of a 10 year old kid, along side a mugshot LOL

    March 22, 2012 at 12:24 am | Report abuse |
  8. Betty Carter

    Who is Zimmerman? Was he employed by anyone? If not, why was he there? It is my opinion that he should be charged with murder.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  9. george

    does the "stand your ground" law really allow for this kind of vigilante-ism? Its one thing for a someone to be attacked and use deadly force in self defense. its another thing for a civilian to grab a gun and go walking the streets looking for people to kill. "stand your ground" doesn't mean every power tripping civilian gets to run around like they are on the ateam

    March 22, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. SirDaBasher


    He is Hispanic , a non White individual
    Don't try to whiting things up , senior Morales

    March 22, 2012 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Fred Riek

      I live in /el Paso q]wher over 70% of our popultion is Hispanic. If you look at El Paso's population statiistics, you will not find a breakdown for Hispanic people, they are counted as caucasian (white), so your remark of whitening him up has no basis. Zimmerman was following him; when the boy ran, Zimmerman took out after him and cornered him and shot him. Zimmerman, regardless of classification, needs to go to jail for a long time.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. SirDaBasher

    This guy looks no where white , you can tell by his eyes nose , the whole face period , that he is a " TACO EATER "
    This ain't no white guy

    March 22, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  12. C Howard

    I can not believe we are seriously discussing what the man said it is irrelevant if he said hi how are you? or I am going to kill you he shot a unarmed child Jesus Christ does everything have to be a race issue?

    March 22, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Senderling

      Of course it always has to be a race issue bc of what our ancestors did. Now its as if we have to please everything they do or make stuff right that we had no control over. Had it been a white kid or any other race this wouldnt be anywhere near as big. Unarmed PEOPLE die all the time if they agress the issue and a person feels they are in great danger it is your right to defend yourself. ie.. If i approached YOU and you were armed and felt that i was going to KILL you with my bear hands which anyone can do, wouldnt you pull your gun and kill me or just assume that i wont kill you with my hands or that I may have a gun in my pocket. SUCH a BS of story just bc he is a kid.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:26 am | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      If you read the article, it explains that it matters because the feds can prosecute instead of the state of florida, if in fact it was a hate crime.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jackson5

    Problem is the crazy "stand your ground" laws that let Dirty Harry want to be's run around armed enforcing their own view of the law

    March 22, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. Kay

    What's not to hear? That racial slur was pretty clear to me, and if I were a law officer and heard that, Zimmerman would totally be charged!!! This case is so sad and so infuriating - this kid did absolutely NOTHING to deserve getting KILLED, and I don't understand why there's any question of charging the guy.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Clay

    Want to see where we're headed? Look at what happened at FAU (Boca Raton, FL.)!! That's how they really feel!

    March 22, 2012 at 1:05 am | Report abuse |
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