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. Bubba™

    He said, "Goons"

    March 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. frankenspine

    I heard it CLEAR AS A BELL.. rhymes with bucking moons.

    March 21, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. nigel

    Why, Mr. Zimmerman looks like a very nice young man. And orange really does suit him...

    March 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Guest

    I heard him say the racial slur very softly to himself, but even if he didn't say it, it does not change the far that Martin was not armed, posed no threat, and that Zimmerman was the clear aggressor.

    Fox News has just posted a clarification of the Castle Law in Florida that was written by the person who designed. It does not hold up for Zimmerman. He should be arrested, tried, the facts of the case presented. It is the only just thing to do.

    March 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Guest

    Alan, you are the reason we have problems in this country. Your racism is disgraceful.

    March 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kim

    Murder is murder. I don't know what is wrong with the police force down there in Florida but it's not funny that man murder a unarmed child what is there to figure out. He stalked and murder a unarmed child.

    March 21, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. To much

    All I heard was the f-word.... I would like to know all the facts, not jut what the liberal media is putting out, before I make my decision...

    March 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Regis990

      Here's the unarmed kid was shot by an armed man, who was told NOT to follow the kid. Simple enough.

      March 21, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Whether or not there was a racial slur is irrelevant. The facts at hand who that this man shot an unarmed boy that was almost 100 pounds lighter than him, who was screaming for help, and who was being pursued by the killer. What is ideological about that?

      March 21, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      yup the media and lib turds are in a feeding frenzy!

      March 21, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      You can call it the "liberal" media all you want. The FACT is that KILLER ZIMMERMAN, IF he was in fear of his life, why did he follow him? To much, tell me, would you follow someone who you were fearful of? Let's start using common sense here. Did he identify himself as a neighborhood watch captain? What would you do if someone just walked up to you and asked you "what are you doing here?" Do our black men need freedom papers to walk around? Do our black men need permission, a handwritten note from the resident What kind of Jim Crow mess is this? Also, no one is calling KILLER ZIMMERMAN a racist, we're just saying he used Trayvon's race as a factor to follow him and accost him. If laws like this are continued to be passed, why would we need police officers?

      March 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Moosh

    A kid is dead-who cares what was said or what the origin of the murderer is?

    March 21, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey

      it's called a hate crime.

      March 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey

      if the kid was killed because he was black that makes it a hate crime. So yes, legally it matters.

      March 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • N8tiv Pride

      The media cares. Deeply. Zimmerman was white, until the picture was shown. If I was white I would sue CNN for defamation of character.

      March 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dreamer96

    The Kid did not know who this guy was..He could have thought he was being kidnapped..

    Why did Zimmerman not identify himself right away..what would you do if someone started chasing you, and they did not identify themselves as a security guard?? Where was the security jacket, or sticker on the vehicle?

    If you listen to all the 911 tapes, Zimmerman tells the 911 operator he thought this kid fit the description giving by his own wife of a home burglar see at his own it's possible Zimmerman was making this encounter a personal, a revenge act, to catch the guy that might have burglarized his own house..He states he thinks the kid is acting strange.. Zimmerman is jumping to many conclusions without any facts yet..

    March 21, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Timothy

    I turned my speakers all the way up and what I heard was "**cking punks." But I do believe this was a hate crime.

    March 21, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jim


    Where is the hospital report on this murderer? He was "bleeding" from the back of his head? Reality? He had Trayvons blood on his hands and his head. Racism is alive and well. The police chief should be charged with obstruction of justice as should the officers involved with the investigation. The DA took weeks to say he was going to do anything.

    March 21, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      good thing your not a detective

      March 21, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Yep

    I guess we'll have an answer when we see Zimmerman next with a teardrop tattoo near his eye!

    March 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Paul

    Sounds to me like he says, "these f-ing thugs." If that is what he said it can be argued he said that due to his skin color, but I just don't hear a point blank slur in there. Listening to this call makes me believe he flat out thought this kid was guilty due to something. If that was his skin color, his age, the clothes he was wearing. Well they are all feasible, but at the end of the day he chased down, caused a confrontation, and shot some one.

    The best that we know from the other side is he ran from a guy pursuing him in an unmarked vehicle. He had no reason to believe that he was neighborhood watch or any type of person with any authority. I am of the belief this could have been avoided given he had some way of identifying the guy was neighborhood watch. He sounds like a good kid who did nothing wrong. Especially in this day an age where we drill into our children that strangers are bad.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy

      Or if KILLER ZIMMERMAN had identified himself as whatever he was, rather than just approaching the kid asking, "what are you doing here?" Really? Who the heck are you to be asking what am I doing here? He approached the kid and expected a civil response? HOW did he ask him? I'm quite sure he wasn't like, "Excuse me young fella, whatchu doing here?" He should have identified himself.

      March 21, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jack

    Too bad Trayvon didn't have a gun. he could of shot this bigot and claimed self defense. he would have a slam dunk case based on these tapes. Zimmerman is a racist and wannabe cop.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      oh really?

      March 21, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Carlos

    Let me see, a cop shoots someone and is put on administrative leave pending further investigation. A citizen shoots someone and that's the end? There's really something wrong here folks!

    March 21, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
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