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. Freedomfighter

    Does anyone know how recent the pictures are of Trayvon? Looks like he is 12 years old in those Football pads.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • MsVicki

      The photos are not recent. But most likely because Trayvon was a fit, athletic, tall teenager with dark skin. If they posted a recent photo of him the racial judgments would be increased because of the unfortunate stereotype of young black men. I can understand why they posted a younger photo of him, to increase their claim of innocence. I'm not posting this as an African American, but as a very white skinned American who thinks the discrimination against young white males needs to STOP in America.

      March 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 4commonsensenow

    This is being made to be racial.I see it as a do gooder working well beyond his rights and powers.The police backed him up and took him at his word.If a police officer shoots anyone even he is put to investigation.This should be a lesson in identifying yourself as some sort of offical.Running up to anyone aggressively leads to these outcomes.Be freaking nice to people and turn troubled youth around.Peace

    March 22, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. benji

    Yeah he said it.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • DEAN JONES

      he is clearly saying Fing PUNKS. listen to it now you will hear it

      March 22, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • ANB

      He clearly used the ridiculous language he is thought to have used. This just makes the situation more sickening. Regardless of race, this incident is deplorable and shouldn't have happen.

      I am for a Florida resident who approves of Florida's "Stand Your Ground Law". It clearly doesn't apply to this case. Mr. Zimmerman must suffer the consequences for his actions the evening in question.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    I have been a recording engineer and studio musician for many years. I was all set to record and analyze the 911 call myself, but I hear racial slur as plain as day. The only reason it isn't any clearer is that Zimmerman didn't care to share it with the 911 operator and so muttered it under his breath. But I heard him. The world heard him. He is clearly racist, clearly a hater, and clearly a murderer.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GoHeels

    Yeah, Sharpton should march in defense of Eve Carson. As a UNC grad it sickens me that such a young, beautiful, intelligent lady was snuffed out because she was white. But, we all know that racism is a one way street in America.

    March 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Smitty McGrunkie

    Gary, you are so right. Native Americans have had it the worst. I have so much respect you you guys.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Yippe Skippy

    Seriously folks, this is the biggest rush to judgment I have ever seen. First of all we have pictures of Trayvon when he was like 12 years old looking all innocent. Secondly, we have the mugshot of Zimmerman. Thrid, the girlfriend of Trayvon seems to be trusted 100% and not questioned by anyone. I will reserve judgment till all the facts come out, it seems like a witch hunt to me.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nilla

      Rush to judgement i'm sure. Just like Casey Anthony...

      March 22, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • JW

      Be objective the boy is dead while the cowboy is walking free.

      March 22, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Diane

    I can't understand why this man (Zimmerman) is not in custody. Had this happened here in Australia, the perpetrator would have been arrested immediately. Racial slurs aside, this is an absolute travesty. Bottom line, this man took a life, apparently without provocation, and acting against direct instructions from law enforcement. A young man has been murdered by an overly zealous 'vigilante'. Where is the justice for Trayvon? Oh and if Zimmerman walks free, this would set an alarming precedent. The man should be punished to the full extent of the law.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Niche Pa

    Oh, I heard it plain as day. Blue Lagoon.

    March 22, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kay Jones

    Yes there is a derogatory racial slur as well as tge "F" word . It definitely places the taint of racism directly on
    Zimmerman .
    I also feel this town is overdue for a new Chief of Police and all new department members . If none will uphold
    and work according to the law . While in uniform no department in the US will be well served in the fashion shown here
    so far. God help the innocent when officers and their leader are so bad,. May God heal Trayvons hurting family.

    March 22, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. There are witches in Massechusetts burn them

    Lets forgo any sort of investigation, guilty!!! hang them and Mr. Zimmerman he's a witch too!

    March 22, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cant say

    wow how times have changed....the lynch mob is now black and a hispanic is white.. i guess you can say we are all equal now. this is a tragic event and justice can't be done..hate will override everything else..

    March 22, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JW

    I had no idea Florida had such incompetent police that would accept the stand your ground law in this situation. That police chief needs an early retirement and this just goes to show you that in the minds of many Americans a black persons life is not worth the investigation. To accept the nonsense that Zimmerman gave them is ridiculous. No more vacations at Disney World for me and my family. Might get shot for looking at someone in a threatening manner right.

    This case isn't about race it's about someone taking the life of someone else. However,it highlights the racial issues that still exist and the Sanford department of police is a prime example of "we don't give a crap about a black person dying."

    Arrest and prosecute!

    March 22, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  14. gene

    it does sound like he used that slur.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jerome

    It is clear, to me, that Zimmerman provoked this situation. Trayvon,as well as all US citizens, are free to walk any public street, especially in your own neighborhood. The fact is, Zimmerman pursued Trayvon after he was instructed not to by the dispatcher. If there was a fight that occurred when Zimmer caught up with Trayvon, it appears to me Trayvon had every right to protect his self and " STAND HIS GROUND". The police officials of Sanford who were involved in the investigation should not only be fired, but prosecuted as well for neglect, and impeding a criminal investigation (just as any citizen would have charges brought against them for foiling an investigation. It is unimaginable that Zimmerman was released solely based on his own account of what happened. Sounds to me this can set the precedence for a lot of killers walking the streets free and clear based on a fabricated version of why they killed someone.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
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