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. Tim

    Why does this remind me of "ghost hunters"? I can't tell that that is even speech, let alone what was said. Anyway, I don't think you need that recording to tell you race had something to do with this.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff N.

    I listened to the CNN tape of the racial slur – it sounds like "f-- Noles" which refers to the FSU Seminoles, who are sometimes called the "Noles". Was Trayvor Martin wearing any FSU apparel? If Zimmerman is a U. of Florida fan (many of whom HATE the Seminoles, this might make sense. And that makes it even more tragic – killing someone over a sports rivalry!

    March 22, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. what

    he aint white folks,sorry.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. what

    al sharptons mom died today but he is not going home to arrange the burial until after he attends the trayvon about having your values out of go al,you big fat ass.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hahaha

      At least Al rallies around his people when they are in need. Much less can be spoken of others.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. guest

    Ok I listened and I had someone else listen. You can clearly hear him even though it's faint, you can hear him. I think it's a shame that this guy is not behind bars. This is clearly intent to cause harm even if not death to someone who he felt was violating his space not his person.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mary smith

    i am BLACK and i hear no racial slur whatsoever. Yes, he has to be prosecuted for what he did, but to force a racial slur in there is absurd.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Houston Longhorn

    I heard the slur clearly. Regardless, Zimmerman was completely out of line and should be held accountable. Slur notwithstanding, the fact that he was told to stand down but pursued on his own should render the "Stand Your Ground " law obsolete in this case. That law is based on a "reasonable person" standard and a reasonable person would follow the instruction of a police dispatcher.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |

    The seal of the living GOD in the forehead of the CHOSEN ONE. The hiphop nation which glorified black on black violence had been summon against black america by the white feminists(WITCHES) and by those whites who a have long history of embracing white supremacy , and it was this act as well as the widespread use of racial profiling in which many black americans were arrested is what has contributed to the black holocaust . Meanwhile old demonic black america has arisen from both the antebellum and hiphop nation and is based on steereotypical images of low class , poverty stricken and criminally prone blacks and has replace the black human population.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yippe Skippy

      That is interesting. What religion do you espouse? Nation of Islam?

      March 22, 2012 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. asokintern

    I don't hear the N word. What does everyone think he is saying.

    He should be arrested for sure and he can use this stand your ground crap as self defense, but i honestly can't make out the second word.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sly

    Zimm will be found guilty and rot ... and that is better than his alternatives, because any decent human will kill him in 'self-defense' (hopefully from about 200 yards with a good scope).

    This case is a no-brainer, whether or not he uttered the slur anyway. Way too many holes in his made up story, and way too many witnesses. His girlfriends cell phone testimony alone will throw out the 'threatened' theory.

    See ya Zimm – life will be real bad for you from now on. Hope you enjoyed off'ing the nice little boy.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane - St. Pete FLA

      what will do you and say if they study that 911 call and figure out the the person yelling for help is Zimmerman?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rags

    Anybody who listened and heard what was suggested must have their own very favorite tinfoil hat on tightly.

    First off, the "suggestion" tells people to use your over-active imagination and you may hear exactly what was suggested. If nothing was suggested and listeners had to actually report what they heard, I wonder how many would have heard any words at all.

    I listened many times and all I heard was static.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • S. Brasfield

      Thats becuse your white

      March 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • aross757

      Really? Static? Come on man, you can't be serious.... People like you believe things like, OJ was innocent. LOL Well, you heard static, but I clearly hear him saying what he said. Just because there's noise in the background, doesn't cover up what he said. I know i heard it.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. BWRITS

    Zimmerman is lying after he kills an innocent young man, and is probably lying about all the African-American youth he observed during attempted robberies. This is just vigilante justice towards African-Americans, and other minorities can be the worst offenders. Just watch CNN (Hispanic looking guy who uncovered a black on white shooting where clearly the shooter was pounced upon by the "victim" in this instance) or Faux News (with whoever that fast-talking female Asian is).

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

    I heard it. But does that in and of it self prove anything?

    March 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jeff N.

    Did anyone else beside me hear "f-- Noles" in the CNN tape – referring to the FSU Seminoles, who are sometimes called the "Noles"? Was Trayvor Martin wearing any FSU apparel? Maybe Zimmerman was a U. of Florida fan, many of whom HATE the Seminoles.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane - St. Pete FLA

      case solved!!!!!

      March 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Duane - St. Pete FLA

    let the police do the investigating.......CNN should just be reporting the news.....not getting involved in it.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • aross757

      That's part of the problem, the police isn't doing anything. Let's be honest, if you heard your child being shot on tape and the police told you that they couldn't arrest the man that admitted to shooting your child, because they didn't have PROOF that it wasn't self defense, would you really think they were doing their job? I mean, really. You can't tell me that if that was your child, you'd want to hear the BS that the police department was telling you...

      March 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
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