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. Ribidit

    I think that it is also important to remember that the shooter said "these guys always get away"....that goes to his state of mind....he did NOT want Trayvon to get away (away from what? -he wasn't doing anything except walking home) this Zimmerman guy is a wanna be cop and now he's in hiding....I, for one, suggest he stay there.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff O

      No doubt... But when he says "these guys always get away" does he mean black guys, guys in hoodies, or guys he thinks are young punks? We will never know for sure.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • philly grl

      Ribidit, you are 100% correct. "These guys always get away...." He had no intention on staying in his vehicle. He was going to chase this kid down and teach him a lesson. It went too far, got out of hand, and he killed him. The stand your ground law in no way was meant for this...the drafter has said so himself. I don't know if Zimmerman is a racist or not, and I don't care. He's wreckless, crazy and now a murderer. Please, arrest this person NOW!

      March 22, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Siggy86

    Who cares if this maniac yelled a racial epithet or not?! Thats not the point, he stalked and killed this kid in cold blood! The slur he yelled at Trayvon is totally irrelevant at this point!

    March 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      The reason is because the "stand your ground" law in Florida can prevent him from being prosecuted if Zimmerman felt threatened. However, if he said a racial slur, it becomes a hate crime and that is a federal offense. So yeah, it's important.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • lIVE

      It's relevant because killing or harming someone based on their race is a crime, even if Florida won't prosecute him for murder he could be prosecuted for the hate crime of killing someone because of their race.

      March 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mmm

    i am a voice control specialist ,,and he said,,obamaa needs to thrown out of office...those are his exact words

    March 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yup...

      I'm pretty sure it said you're a moron.

      March 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kristinewt

    Zimmerman's race is not important. I think we can definitively say that Zimmerman Profiled thisteen to be suspect and he was not. What is questionable is why Zimmerman has not been arrested. What's questionable whether or not there was a thorough investigation. Police Chief Bill Lee said there was, however he took weeks to have tapes released to the families. We know Zimmerman had blood on his head and nose but, was it his own? Was there swabs taken to determine if it was Zimmerman's or the victims? Was there open cuts or wounds on Zimmerman? If so were they indentifiable by torn skin or open wounds? Is there pictures of the wounds. If not, why not? Zimmerman claims self defense, he has to prove this..or not? Everyday that goes by that Zimmerman is not arrested is time lost to gather this evidence and information..Wounds do heal, we know Zimmerman's will but Trayvon Martin's family will never.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PorkNBeans

    Yep, he said it.
    Plain as day.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nasal Drip

      He definitely said it. So clear. Can't believe you racists can't hear it.

      March 22, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kristinewt

    Why the immediate arrest of Zimmerman is important?

    Zimmerman's race is not important. I think we can definitively say that Zimmerman Profiled this man to be suspect and he was not. What is questionable is why Zimmerman has not been arrested. What's questionable whether or not there was a thorough investigation. Police Cheif Bill Lee said there was, however he took weeks to have tapes released to the families. We know Zimmerman had blood on his head and nose but, was it his own? Was there swabs taken to determine if it was Zimmerman's or the victims? Was there open cuts or wounds on Zimmerman? If so were they indentifable by torn skin or open wounds? Is there pictures of the wounds. If not, why not? Zimmerman claims self defense, he has to prove this..or not? Everyday that goes by that Zimmerman is not arrested is time lost to gather this evidence and information..Wounds do heal, we know Zimmerman's will but Trayvon Martin's family will never.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Nikore

    Whoa whoa whoa... I get that this guy disobeyed the authorities, carried a loaded weapon into a neighborhood and shot an unarmed teenager without judicial consequence. That I understand. But are you now telling me that he may have uttered an offensive word while doing so? IMMENSE OUTRAGE!!!!!!!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • JaylikeBird

      Because it proves that the Sanford police are lying, colluding POS's, because it blows Zimmerman's story into bits. Which everyone suspects anyway, but this one cinches it. I suppose that could be construdes as outrageous, which situations are famous for inspiring the feeling known as "outrage."

      Quit acting all coy about what you know is going on. It's disingenuous.

      March 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan Halen

    Wow CNN, keep pounding it until we all say we heard it. This is some amazing propaganda brainwashing your doing.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JoJo

    A Florida Jury will never convict him, especially if they keep saying, he's white.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. daledooty

    Who occupies the majority of prison cells in America? Case closed.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      lol..let me guess .... Chinese people?

      March 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • rjona

      whites occupy the majority of prison cells.

      March 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • rjona

      Better question. Which race commits more violent crimes

      March 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      Self-proclaimed Christians.

      March 21, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Andrew

      Look at who is committing most of the crimes, doing and selling drugs and guns in the cities and not getting incarcerated? Case closed!

      March 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Skeptic101

    As much as I hate what this dude did, don't be so quick to believe the racial slur in the audio. It seems very emotionally satisfying to think that he gave conclusive proof of his overt racism on tape, but the audio is pretty sketchy. Whenever you see people saying they couldn't tell what it was or that they didn't notice it until it was pointed out to them, its an ENORMOUS red flag for pareidolia. (Think EVP in ghost hunting)

    March 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. daledooty

    meh who cares..

    March 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sielingfan

    what the..... he SHOT A KID, why do we care if he used a racial slur? This is ridiculous.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 911 call

    "911. State your emergency please."
    .
    There are gun shots being fired from accross the street. My address is...
    .
    "Hold on sir. Before we can be of assistance we need to know if you heard any racial slurs or anti-gay/anti-semetic remarks."

    March 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jason

    I have personally heard blacks calling each other the N word. It's all over the rap music along with other graphic, violent and vulgar lyrics.

    When will the community start fixing the problem instead of the symptoms.. clean up your own first.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Andrew

      What is your point? Are you suggesting that Zimmerman and everyone who wishes to refer to African American using the N word because you hear it in rap music? Do you understand rap or do you just hear it?

      March 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
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