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. Founders1791

    .....Media Matters....White House...Lame Stream Media.....INVENT CRISIS TIME.... hide the decline of the Obama stewardship and liberal causes.....hide it....Goebbles it.....make it disappear.....look over there!

    War on Woman? Civil Rights? Hate Speech? Censor Enemies? Pay your Fair Share? Religious Oppression?

    Is the Obama White House fueled by Snowballs, Weed, and Cristal?

    AMBULANCE CHASERS is being kind! Seriously, you guys in the MEDIA should be brought up ON 'charges' for "intent to incite civil unrest"...aka "subversive activities / patriot act"...for the TONE AND STEERING OF THIS SUBJECT with a dripping subjective INTENT to drive this the shooter responsible.

    Lame Stream Media GOES BALLISTIC with story to divert 'news' in 'any direction' other than Obama.

    ( CNN ) – actually FALSIFIED AUDIO in front of viewers claiming to 'hear racial slurs' in the static of the 911 call of Zimmerman...that clearly did not exist. It was an egregious display of bias.

    ( Washington Post ) – FOSTERS RACIAL STRIFE by inventing 'civil rights' are somehow related to a HISPANIC SHOOTER that kills a 'black kid'. Detroit, Camden, Washington DC mean anything to you?

    If Zimmerman (Hispanic) is found guilty, so be it.


    March 22, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Anne

    WOW. I had only heard that a "racial epithet" was being debated. Hadn't heard the recording or anything specific as to what was "possibly" said. In fact, I was assuming I would probably hear the n-word. WOW. Uh....I heard the words f- c- (as specified in the report after they play the call) and this audio clip is apparently what is under debate? Am I taking crazy pills? Why is this a debate? Racist slur is clearly spoken. WOW. Uh, hello? The Matthew Shepard & James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009? It's me and a couple other million people calling....

    March 22, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joe Mahma


    A slur against "punks" maybe. Why would he use a racial slur while on the phone with the police, anyway?


    March 22, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. Senderling

    I agree that posting a pic of a kid next to a mugshot does nothing but make the guy in the mugshot look bad.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. AmericanDirt

    All you need to know is “Zimmerman" if he believed what he did was right, than he would be standing his ground, because he had no problem on that night in FEB. In his heart he knows what he said. His days are numbered, if JUSTICE is not handed down in this life, when he stands before our maker, he won't be able to LIE, because the Lord can see into Zimmerman’s (Heart, Mind, and Soul) and he will be rightfully judged.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      This is America, 15,000 murders are committed every year. It is the most violent country in the world, what do u expect?
      It may or may not be number one in anything else, but certainly, it is numero uno when it comes to violence.

      Matin's murder will be old news in a few days, but, this madness will continue. NRA will win every time.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  6. Chubbykinz

    Sounds like "punks" to me

    March 22, 2012 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Jermaine

      Punks? I don't think so. There was no P sound in either of those two words. Most Black people heard exactly what he said when the Technician took all the bass out.Besides, most of us are Experts on discerning ugly words being directed at us.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  7. jackblack

    Its not clear enough he coulda been breathing

    March 22, 2012 at 1:33 am | Report abuse |
  8. Senderling

    Now let me say this. I am truely sorry that this youngman had to lose his life but only him and that watch guy truely know what happened. Its always gotta be oh hes not black and killed a black kid lets fry his ass. Had it been black on black crime this wouldve been gang related somehow and left alone!!! The tape sound slike im listeniing to a gost hunter interpretation of a message from the world of the dead. People make it sound like what they want to hear. NO CASE waste of time and money in the court su=ystems and any other law enforcements time.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • craig

      The first problem with your reasoning is that he didn't "HAVE TO" lose his life. It was taken from him. That much is absolutely clear. He was un-armed and gunned down.

      Now, as to the "expense" and such. This country tries to operate under a system of laws that are applied equally to everyone. It doesn't always happen, but that's the goal. To further that goal, we separate things. Police investigate and present cases, but they don't get to judge. least it's obvious to most of us, that's designed that way for a reason. In this case, no one will receive "Justice" unless he is tried. The police can present their case, the defense can present theirs, and the judge and/or jury will decide. If that happens, I'm good with any result, even if I personally disagree. If it doesn't happen, there was no justice for anyone.

      I'm quite certain if you were involved in this situation you would desire nothing less, unless you'd prefer the locals grab Mr. Zimmerman and simply string him up right now. In some places they used to do that. In some places the law simply looked the other way when it happened. I think that's exactly what's happening here and now. When Zimmerman got out of his car and chased the victim, he wasn't "standing his ground." He was chasing someone who had done nothing wrong except walk through Zimmerman's field of vision. That's not a crime...even in Florida!

      March 22, 2012 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
    • tyrell

      We are supposed to be inching toward PROGRESS. You miss the point. It's not about MONEY

      March 22, 2012 at 1:59 am | Report abuse |
    • RomneyBushFail

      My comment was directed toward you, @senderling

      March 22, 2012 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
    • SuperDave

      Senderling, Martin was pursued by this person and shot. Martin did not pursue him and get shot as a result. You, and others, making these stupid comments makes me sad to be part of this society.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. Elginren

    The last few seconds of this story were a tragedy. People aren't saying that the young man who was killed HAD to answer Zimmerman, nor are they saying NOT answering brought about justification. What people have been saying is that getting into a fight because of being asked may have been the young man's fault. We really don't know, at this point. CNN is bending the story again to suit its own needs.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
    • klangster

      how about shooting a kid that fought back after having a fight started with him, there is no excuse for this guy he started a confrontation and he shot some one how can it be any one but his fault

      March 22, 2012 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. jackblack

    I dont think Hispanics call black people Cns.?

    March 22, 2012 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
    • jim

      Good point.I agree.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Bee

      My in-laws are Hispanic and use racial epithets all the time.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:42 am | Report abuse |
  11. blackperson3

    young blacks kill each other every day, and on weekend, young black males kill other blacks on an hourly basis. and NOBODY cares. But when rare event, someone else kills a young black, then it's a big deal. How about some consistency. This weekend, there will be many black on black gang murders, and all these people complaining here will be silent!

    March 22, 2012 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
    • klangster

      if a black person kills any one for any reason and are standing over the unarmed body with the smoking gun they get arrested, if that had happened this would just be another night in America, plus the guy would have got off and we never would have heard about it. But the cops let the guy go without even getting an official statement or a drug test so people are justifiably angry

      March 22, 2012 at 1:51 am | Report abuse |
    • terry Tateson

      Where do you get this non sense, A mind is a terrible thing to waste.... just as many white people as black end up in emergency rooms with gunshots over the weekend. Become better educated before making such remarks without an ounce of anything more than an article you have read to make such a statement... are you a gang member, so how do you know who they are shooting or where?... have you made any trip to an emergency room on a weekend....maybe you should then you will see what really happens in an emergency room..... It's definitely more than gunshots.....and gangs........ignorance can be fixed, stupid is forever

      March 22, 2012 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
    • mike

      The reason this is such a big news story has more to do with the failure of the local police to arrest zimmerman then it does with the nature of the crime. We do not hear about the many black on black crimes because by and large if there is enough evidence the culprit is arrested and tried. Here there is ample evidence and the local police have done nothing, that is the rare event.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Jammaster

      Sure bp (not). All is well until it happens to one of YOUR relatives, then suddenly it's important.
      You sir, are a fool.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      @blackperson3. It's the young man's family who were pursuing justice for their son's murder, and rightly so.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:44 am | Report abuse |
    • another1

      Your ignorance suits your racist agenda. The police let the murderer go without so much as a thought to due process. The murderer was not protecting himself, he was armed with a gun and chased this boy down, and whether or not there was any fight (doubtful as the murderer was armed and the boy was not) it was the murderers fault because he was told to stand down by the police but he ignored that and pursued an altercation that reslted in him killing a prrson. The police didn't care about anything except letting this murderer go free. They had him, and hey let him go. Justice was not served.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. terry Tateson

    Should the Police be questioning Zimmerman about other's he's possibly shot in Florida.... Police may have a serial killer on their hands, or at least a crazed racist vigilante to take out every black male in Sanford Florida......George Zimmerman may be a nice guy, most serial killers, child molestors and predators in general are...they don't give themselves away, till they slip up and can't get away with their deed.....Zimmerman is no different, He has called 911 so many times that police have made several arrest and inquiries of black men who have been in the neighborhood, this is not a first for George Zimmerman, which is why Police were so comfortable with him..... It's because they have responded to his calls, and they knew he carried a concealed weapons during of all damn things...."Neighborhood Watch"...I rather have the lil ole white lady on the phone looking out her window, watching, waiting for you to make her day, go ahead.... dialing 9-1.... and waiting for you to do something so she can dial the last 1.......Zimmerman was so full of control of the neighborhood that he was keeping everyone out at all cost.....His neighbor says George is a good guy....Most lunatics are helpful, they are obsessive compulsive, and his compulsion was control of the Sanford Neighborhood....It's Not Hard, the Chief, the head of the Snake should be fired, and the Police Department cleaned from top to bottom, and George Zimmerman, should be tried, and eventually convicted of 1st Degree Murder....this was not Manslaughter but a calculated hunt him down killing.... and Zimmerman should get everything that God, and Law Enforcement, True Law Enforcement should throw at him..... It is a capital crime to use a vehicle in the Commission of a Homicide, It is a capital crime that George Zimmerman committed, He should get the death penalty....Period

    March 22, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Jermaine

      I think that Zimmerman is a Racist Vigilante Killer with the knowledge and blessings of the Police Chief. Now doesn't that answer ALL questions? Why is it so hard being Black and Alive?

      March 22, 2012 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Brian W.

      So I guess the justice system is not your thing and you prefer to have an armed mob of black folks grab him from his house and lynch him in the streets....maybe have the black folk wear some robes and some masks over their faces so they can be anonymous......also be sure they burn a cross afterwards to show they are doing Gods work...

      March 22, 2012 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Wow, terry, your nuts!

      March 22, 2012 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
  13. jackblack

    "Zimmerman, whom authorities described as white and family members say is Hispanic" What the? CNN is pushing this into something its not.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      If the shooter is perceived a white, then it's a racist hate crime, if perceived as Hispanic, then it will look as though it was justified.

      March 22, 2012 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. blackperson3

    why is there no uproar when young black gang members kill other blacks?

    March 22, 2012 at 1:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jammaster

      1. Because you have selective hearing.
      2. Because you are a hateful bigot.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jermaine

    Of course he said it. Arrest him and stop with these games. I also beleive that the police department, who he said it to, is guilty in this matter of obstruction. Trayvon would have been arrested ON THE SPOT were it reversed.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
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