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. terry Tateson

    I once said Rush Limbaugh is the worst kind of racist, He is the racist that southerner's love, that white southern so called them selves christians love, the Franklin Graham hero, the kinda man that would have written the Willie Lynch Papers.... He is the New Willie Lynch Limbaugh until Bill Lee.....Justice for Trayvon

    March 22, 2012 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      If you are black, than you are a true racist from the core!

      March 22, 2012 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. Elginren

    How do we know he didn't see a certain ringed animal with a mask-like face running in front of him?

    March 22, 2012 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. El

    It's ashamed that there is people who would use rap,peoples conversations,inner city violence,ect.ect. as a way to divert attention from the obvious misuse and abuse of "wanted" authority,yall need help.The so called "neighborhood watch guy" is most likely mentally ill,not smart enough to become a security guard or self dependant enough to even take care of himself.This isn't a case of racism just of a lonely man with a superiority complex who happen to take his fake cop job too far one day.I pray that Zimmerman,a the attention divertors,get the help they so desperately need.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. rec

    Of course he did, Its very clear. And by the wahy , WHAT DID HE MEAN WHEN HE SAID THOSE PEOPLE?

    March 22, 2012 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Question

      It means that this guy called the cops on people for various reasons over 50 times in the last few years, and most of them had gotten away before/if the police ever showed up. The guy freaked out, really wanted to press things, really wanted to be a hero, and panicked when push came to shove. least, if I were a good defense attorney, this would be the story that winds up in trial.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Maybe he meant criminal! duh

      March 22, 2012 at 6:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. Mwooding

    I definitly heard a racial slur. What I have not heard is in what part of his body was Trayvon shot? If ihe was walking fast or running and was shot in the back, no way was it self defense only if he was shot in his front would it possibly be self defense. this is an important point and has been left out of all news reports. It should be found in the coroner's report, where the bullit entered and exited. I'm southern, white and very outraged about this!!! Are we back to the 50's? we are supposed to go to Florida for a convention in a few weeks and I no longer want to go.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. Greg

    Blacks kids are killing each other everyday in every city in the United States and nobody seems to care. Throw in a hispanic watchman and now Al Shaprton gets involved.

    March 22, 2012 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Daniel

    To start off, I think the guy is guilty and should be prosecuted at the fullest extent of the law. However, I couldn't hear anything in that 911 tape. I'm not saying it isn't there, but it could be a lot of people are hearing it because CNN is saying it could be there.

    March 22, 2012 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
  8. Andrew

    Black, White or Yellow when police ordered him not to follow, he perused and killed a young man who is unarmed. Who gave him license to kill. This zimmerman be him hispanic, puetorican, african or whatever is a threat to the society and should be in electric chair .. Put this Zimmerman down..

    March 22, 2012 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Adolf

      Ah ya police didnt order him to do anything that was the 911 dispatch and uh yea thats not an official of law enforcement so really doesnt matter DUH!!!

      March 22, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • peter gibson

      If Martin had just let Zimmerman ask him what he was doing and maybe even let Zimmerman shout at him, then nothing would have happened. Zimmerman would have realized that Martin was not dangerous and they both would have walked. My suspision is that instead, Martin got aggressive in response to Zimmerman's aggresssion and the whole thing got out of hand. And the one with the gun won.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • peter gibson

      This is what really happened: If Martin had just let Zimmerman ask him what he was doing and maybe even let Zimmerman shout at him, then nothing would have happened. Zimmerman would have realized that Martin was not dangerous and they both would have walked. My suspision is that instead, Martin got aggressive in response to Zimmerman's aggresssion and the whole thing got out of hand. And the one with the gun won.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jorge

    WOW, this Zimmerman guy seems to be such a shameful fool, that his own family won't own up to his race.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
  10. Charles

    Re: racial slur--the audio tape is inconclusive.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. cigarman

    UH, the police did not tell him not to follow. The 911 operator told him that we do not need you to do that. A person in Florida is not required to do what a 911 operator says, the operator is not the police.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:16 am | Report abuse |
    • daveinla

      Thats right. A dispatcher...not the police. He was never told to stand down. The actually quote was , "We don't need that."

      March 22, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Kim

      And a boy is not required by law to answer a neighborhood watch guy ciarman

      March 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Don

    WHO CARES WHAT ZIMMERMAN CALLED THE BOY. Race or Racial remarks is not the problem here CNN. There was a BULLET involve. Names will never hurt me. THE BULLET WILL. The Problem now is the Police. The police should have done there job properly. No one in this country should have been able to shoot some one and simply be sent home with out proper questioning or investigation with the GUN. Some sort of investigation should have occured it only for show. SELF DEFENSE went out the window when Zimmerman followed the boy. He had no probable cause to do so. He called the police that should have been the end of it since thus far no crime was committed or reported. Zimmerman though is not the problem. He was a pre judgemental vigilante. All he lacked was the mask and cape. The police showed no concern that a young BLACK Boy was Killed. Just another one gone. No worries Zimmerman we'll try to midigate your cupability here take your gun and go home.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. daveinla

    The audio tape is totally inconclusive.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
  14. daveinla

    Did you pick up any ghost on your enhanced digital recording? Perhaps we can bring in the Ghost Hunter guys to manipulate this audio some more.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. B.R.M

    Well I want to add, If the authorities doesn't take any action soon, the streets will and everyone knows Zimmerman is good as DEAD.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
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