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. hawaiiduude

    zimmerman is a jewish name. Why can't the media say a jew killed the black boy? oh yeah... they own the media.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • wrl468

      hey hawaiidude, don't you have a goat (I mean cousin) to hump?

      March 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      It is not the "jews" it is the Zionists. They are radical jews just like the radical Shiite muslims (Iran and Hezbollah). They really don't believe in their religion anyway.. it is just TRADITION, not spirituality. Their God or G-d (haha).. is MONEY $$$$.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Marlene

    It sounds perfectly clear to me. But can we find a jury in Florida that can convict?

    March 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. BWRITS

    His tone/demeanor certainly goes along the lines of a racial slur. He seems totally disgusted and out to get the F... C.. 's. Here we have a Hispanic hating on an African-American, both minorities and no better liked by some non-minorities is what is so sad. And, that goes for City Manager Bonaparte as well!

    March 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Antonio

    At worst is a racially motivated shooting. At best it's a bad judgement, trigger happy case.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Exactly. We may never know the truth. So Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Umaara

    Thank God for technology.And Thank the Most High for the the good people at CNN.Those people at that police department aswell as the mayor might aswell step down.They could have done right thing last month but they had to walk the path of hate.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BWRITS

    Zimmerman, watch the movie, "A Soldier's Story".... You killed an innocent boy, for what? AND, "they still don't like you! "(laughing)

    March 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Marlene

    STAN: You make me sick. NO ONE saw Trayvon beating Z and fighting over a gun. Z said that. Z said he felt threatened. Z said T came after him. Z followed him in a large SUV against instructions, while cops were on the way, Z had a gun, Z left his vehicle, Witnesses called 911 hearing a boy screaming "help me" repeatedly..then witness heard a SHOT and no sound and SAW Z climb onto the corpse straddling him...then I'll make assumptions like you did.........Z realized what he did and banged his face into the curb and smashed his head since the little young boy would never have been able to do that and Z is a FAT RACIST LIAR. P.S. I am white.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Debbie

    Jammaster, I heard the same thing you heard. I guess the experts must need a state of the art listening device.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johan Goetz

      You heard him start to say a phrase in Spanish then switch back to English again? That's what I heard.

      It is not uncommon for Hispanics to do is when flustered.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Well, yes, I understand the sentiment ;-D The problem is people want to look and act like thugs doesn't matter white, black, latino or now arab. A hoodie is for cold weather. Was it cold that night in Central Florida? Or was it just part of his urban youth culture programming to wear his pants down to his ass crack and have a hoodie?? Was he defiant to the security guard? Most kids have a cell phone or they just GOT TO HAVE THE iPhone! Where was his? Why didn't he call his Father's fiance? CNN is doing their best to start a racial war. Shame on the reporters!

      March 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Greg

    Zimmerman looks Hispanic to me.
    Hispanic on black crimes are common.

    Why do Blacks call theirselves African American? They are one or the other arent they? The term stirs racism!!

    Lets see Justce served period.

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

      Greg,
      Do ALL Blacks refer to themselves as African American? I think that is another racist statement because most of the Blacks I know indicate they were not born in Africa.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Retired Army

      He 'looks' Hispanic?

      Well.....what about his father......is HE Hispanic?

      Who raised him.....someone OTHER than his father?

      Who's values and principles does he live by.....if not his father's?

      I can bet you this.....George Zimmerman doesn't go around calling himself 'Hispanic'.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TiredODaCrap

    Please please please, will YOU go walk around in a hoodie in this neighborhood. Ridiculous racists like you are the main problem in this world!

    March 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ben James

    If the shooter had been a black man and the child had been white the shooter would now be in jail, but hey, this is the south.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Marlene

    JIM, puhleeze....NO ONE has reported Trayvon on top of Z....only Z has said that, and yes, I do believe he said effin C..and it is so clear I don't know how anyone didn't hear that. And Z realized what he did, laid on the grass and banged his head and face Witnesses on 911 call heard a young boy screaming "help me"..she thought it was a girl...then a shot, then nothing...then another 911 caller said Z straddled Trayvon after he was dead. Get real, let the cops investigate? Obvi. that didn't happen until we all made a fuss. I lived there 10 years...The white boy cops don't like any of the minorities. Again I am white and grew up during bussing, integration, the race riots of Detroit...and I am SICK of racist pigs.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mack.

    Im just saying 240 lb guy versus a 140 lb kid do you really need a gun to subdue a kid after the fact the dispatcher told you not to follow him this SOB was looking for trouble.I hate to see some innocent kid lose his Life over this SOB personal Glory.SAD all the way around he wanted glory he found it .GOD Bless his family

    March 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BWRITS

    A good quality earphone will go a long way toward enhancing what was said. Give it a try.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nikole

    He definitely said it – I'm unsure of how anyone could say that they did not hear it. Whether that affects the case or not – I'm not convinced. It shouldn't matter what color this kid is or what color the shooter is – what matters is that an armed adult shot a kid who was unarmed.

    Just for the record, this is coming from a white (german heritage) woman married to a white (irish heritage) man with no children, who comes from a very conservative area.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
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