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. confused

    So I can stalk unarmed minorities, initiate conflicts with them and the moment they defend themselves I am allowed to kill them in Florida?

    Sounds like a paradise for white supremacists. They all should move down there and start racially purifying the state.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Stephanie Hill

    You may say it using a fake name in the comfort of being hidden behind your computer, but I bet you wouldn't say it in a room full of blackmen, coward.

    March 23, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. James Black

    What racial slur?! I didn't hear a racial slur. I believe I haard him say "punk," but that is not a racial slur.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mehgann

    Just listened to it for the first time, and it sounds like "punks". Not that it makes it any better.

    March 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. jason

    i heard it, plain as day. I am a white mississippi boy if it matters.

    March 23, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MissyC

    Wow...this is crap. It's PLAIN AS DAY!!! Idk, maybe its just because i'm black, and trained to beat the snot out of anyone who says the word to me, but....idk, i think it's the CNN people who'd rather write words and instigate, than hear and tell the truth. It's a hate crime within itself, trying to stress the possibility that this dude could be innocent and hate free, when he did, in fact, kill a black boy. That's just it.

    March 23, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jaun in El Paso

    If the kid was acting like a gang-banger he should be treated like one. Is anyone realy checking into my fellow brown mans side of the story. Did the kid say something, threaten him, do anything that made the latino man think the kid was going for a gun? If so, then..... the liberal media will drop this like a hot potato! If this kid ends up being a criminal in the works this will all go away. But for now Obama and the liberal media will make him look like a saint until the tragity is played out.

    March 23, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • commonsense

      You are proof positive how stupid people can be....what do you mean if he was acting like a gang banger? Why? Cause he's black? Who gets to make that decision? Even if he was "acting" like a gang banger, that is not a crime!!!

      Zimmerman is the one who followed him, and had absolutely no business carrying a gun. He was on a neighborhood patrol. Would you want people who may racial profile YOU brought to YOUR neighborhood to do patrols with a gun?

      You absolutely disgust me. I am white, but it is very clear from the audio, what was said, and that at the very least, there was racial profiling going on here....and at the worst, a hate crime.

      Your comments and references to Obama and the liberal media show you are just as racist.

      March 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • david Rutledge

      Pathetic. Really. Plus misspellings. And embarrassing. Your hate on several fronts is evidence enough that you would not be an objective source. I don't know what happened that night; but I want authorities to get to the bottom of it – and will not prejudge anything but will let them do their best.

      March 24, 2012 at 12:12 am | Report abuse |
    • goinggoinggone

      If you're implying that conservatives think this killing was justified, then you're not doing your party any favors.

      March 24, 2012 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. mondo

    i don't see how anyone could miss it

    March 23, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ms,j

    this is so sad had me crying all the way through the video ! rip Trayvon Davis

    March 24, 2012 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. goinggoinggone

    This definitely sounded like a racial slur to me.

    March 24, 2012 at 3:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. Frank

    I have no idea, since I'm not about to install flash 11.1. Why not have a link to an .mp3 or any other normal downloadable audio file?

    March 24, 2012 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Neal Hicks

    if you're willing to believe CNN's technical staff working with the audio could not hear what was said clear as day, maybe you'd believe that Rick Santorum said he didn't want other people's money to go to "blah" people. Blah being pronounced with a K sound at the end.

    CNN, we won't report the evidence of our own ears.

    March 24, 2012 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ralph

    This is another tragedy that could cause serious implications nationwide because of the element of racism. Mr. Zimmerman should have been arrested if he's not been arrested yet. Whatever happened that day that led to the killing of this innocenbt boy should have not happened if Mr. Zimmerman is not carrying a gun. Mr. Zimmerman has a criminal liability whatever his motives were. I trust in our legal justice system and trial by jury to decide the appropriate punishment for Mr. Zimmerman. No one has the right to take someone's life nor our society should let Mr. Zimmerman go unpunished for clearly shooting an unarmed boy, in self-defense or not!

    March 24, 2012 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      On April 5, 2012, CNN reported that the word is "PUNKS."

      April 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Julie

    Zimmerman is a racist that was stalking black males to shoot them. End of story. He is guilty of murder and hate crimes.

    March 24, 2012 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
  15. Liz

    I haven't noticed how Trayvon was found dead holding the skittles if he in fact attached the guy from behind and knocked him on the ground and bloodied his nose. Wouldn't he first throw the candy aside if he attacked him?

    March 24, 2012 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
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