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. wesleyh

    I do not understand if he was following the boy (and told to stop following him by the Police on the 911 call) how can anyone say the boy attacked him?
    If he cought up to or even yelled at the boy to stop he was the attacker. How could he even say it was in self defence?

    March 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. blade1975

    Did he use a racial slur.

    Even as a bl ack man i read "No real evidence of racism, we the news media will make one up."

    He shot a kid for no reason now you play the fake race card...

    March 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • blade1975

      BTW he's Mexican or Cuban, not white. Hey CNN you got your fake racial hatred story wrong...

      March 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • BMcGee

      Blade, btw, being from a certain country does not make you a certain "race." You just said he was from Cuba or Mexico, so he's not white. That doesn't make any sense! You can still be white and be from Mexico or Cuba.

      March 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Well said Blade. Its stories like these that continue to divide us by race. And it is in a lot of peoples interest to keep the races divided.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff O

    I just listened to the recording... it pretty clear he said "F'ing Punks"....I heard no 'OOO" sound in that second word. He has no discernible accent, so you can eliminate that possibility. But people will hear what they want to hear .
    And just for the record, I think he should be arrested...Neighborhood watch should not be chasing down suspects and then claiming self-defense when the suspect is cornered.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kay

    he said f @ @ k & i n g c 0 0 n s clear as day .... breathy with wind blowing but still clear. Man if there is dispute about that as they are using state of the art voice analysis .. they must be dumb as rocks

    March 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      Duh!... lol

      March 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sofa King

    Let's try to keep an open mind. He might have tripped over a rac00n while he was running.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amie

      lol @ soft king!

      March 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amie

      oops...sofa king

      March 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jack the Ripper

    effin koons he said. deplorable.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. deb

    who the **** cares??? THIS MAN NEEDS TO BE ARRESTED NOW.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lincoln

    you are no better than him with such comments. Stay classy.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kristinewt


    March 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JoJo

    Is there an effin official dictionary that defines racial slurs.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JOYF

    It sounds as clear as day to me. He definitely said f-ing c–n's. It is undeniable. Something needs to be done about this immediately. Everybody working on the initial investigation needs to be fired. It is clear that the Sanford police department has tried to cover up so many aspects of this case from the very beginning. Zimmerman had no right to be following this boy, he was wrong all the way around. You can hear him screaming for help for Gods sake, right before he was brutally murdered. The press conference where witnesses came forward to tell what they saw is heartbreaking. Zimmerman deserves to fry. JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON!!

    March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff O

      To say its undeniable is a stretch... a big stretch..But then again, in your mind you've already convicted and sentenced the guy. The people that are impartial in this investigation have made no such conclusion. And even if he did say it, the last time I checked, you can't be sent to jail for it...yet.

      The Sanford PD is handcuffed by the FLA laws on self-defense more than anything else. They are a small PD that is in over their heads, that's why the FBI has been called in. Legal experts have already said this will be a tough case to prosecute on either a federal or state level. They have to go by the rule of law, not the rule of emotion. There is no justice for Travvon... he's dead. The result of this prosecution, if there is one, will hopefully be changing of the self-defense in FLA which on its face, makes no sense.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. kristinewt

    some of his words are bleeped we don't really know.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JoJo

    He could have said, "effin hoodies. "

    March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ned Flanders

    Neighborhood watch

    A-ROONIE !

    March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Andy

    Who cares about what he said, he should not have been chasing after the kid. This has nothing to do with the stand your ground law.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
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