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. Guest

    Why are the newscasters making such a big deal out of something that can hardly be distinguished as a word. When Trayvon's mom says it isn't a an African American or White American thing. It's the difference between right or wrong.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nikole

      To answer the question of why they're focusing on whether or not it is a racial slur – when I re-watched the news clip it said that if they determine it to be a hate crime it becomes a federal investigation.

      March 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim

    I think they should give Zimmerman a medal!!!!!

    March 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Here Here!

      March 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mack.

    SAD some little kid lost there Life over this SOB personal Glory,The crazy part is the dispatcher told him to NOT to follow and he went to harass this 17 year old WHAT kind of Jack leg POLICE DEPARTMENT is in Sanford .The Chief and his wannabee fake detectives need to all be locked up

    March 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Johan Goetz

    Zimmerman did not use a racial slur. He speaks Spanish, and he was very nervous. He started to speak in Spanish but caught himself. Thats it. It's a half-formed Spanish word, not a racial slur.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeffrey Cox

    Wow. Just. Wow.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeffrey Cox

    Wow. Just. Wow.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. glenn

    i,am tired of hearing the word race every timer a black person is killed it seems that instead of there first words beingmom, or dad its race. you can thank al andthe rest of the naacp for that

    March 22, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. usmc786

    I think this guy messed up bad. He def. Thought that he had caught the burglary suspect he had been probably looking for and his adrenaline got the best of him. He thought he was smarter and in a better position than the police and that he had to act quickly and by him self. He's obviously not nearly as good of a detective as he presumed himself to be. However the epiphany he had resulted in a young man dying. This stand your own ground law needs to be altered big time. In Texas everyone knows that if you use your gun make sure you always kill the person so that you don't risk prosecution. This guy needs to pay for his over reaction cause although he may not be a racist he still should be charged on this senseless act of murder. His head alone probably weighs more than Martins whole body. I'm a US marine and I think this law is stupid to give everyday civilians the right to kill. Shame on you NRA, this law makes your organization more rich and that's the only reason you wanted it passed. Zimmerman, I hope you get what's coming to you legally sooner than later. In fact, Zimmerman, you should just off yourself if you knew what is waiting for you in prison.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Frank McDonald

    I was prisident of a neighborhood watch for 5 years, beginning in 1992. I was connected to the French Hill neighborhood services in Nashua, NH. Neighborhood watch members are not allowed to carry guns!!. This guy should be behind bars NOW!!! He is a murdering biggot, plain and simple!!

    March 22, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    One less troll on these forums would be much better.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. northernCA

    what did the 911 person hear? when do they have an opportunity to tesify to a Grand Jury?

    March 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • B6

      I asked the same question. The tone of the 911 operator changes after Zimmerman mutters under his breath. It is like he is wondering, Did I hear what I thought I heard? You hear the wind and movement.

      March 26, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mark T

    This looks like negligent homicide. About the same as reckless driving causing a fatality. Was Mr. Zimmerman a previous crime victim? Might help explain things.
    The thing that stands out to me is the media frenzy when there was nothing like this when black teens Jamiel Shaw and Cheryl Green were shot and killed in LA by illegal immigrant gangsters who had just been let out of jail instead of deported as they should have been. But to acknowledge those stories would require facing issues like violent crime associated with illegal immigration and the increasing violence between blacks and latinos. Since these do not fit the media pre-set agenda, So they get swept under the rug.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lou

    How dare you. You are a waste of human flesh to be saying that. And I am a white Canadian. You must be a dumb hick.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. A Mom

    Before the enhancement I heard "F ing something." After the enhancement I heard the slur in question. It's been a very long time since I've heard it used. I don't believe Zimmerman's story that Trevon Martin attacked him as he was returning to his truck.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Mom

      Sorry about the double post, I thought my first comment got "lost" in the ethernet.

      March 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Retired Army

    Typically stupid response.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
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