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?

Post by:
Filed under: Florida • Justice • Trayvon Martin • U.S.
soundoff (928 Responses)
  1. High Hopes


    That's exactly the kind of person who would
    do something like this. A nosy, no-life who has
    nothing better to do than to spy on people...
    making crap up in his mind, including grandiose
    idealation about how important he is in the
    neighborhood and to the police… only he's
    got a BIG gun!

    Party's over, hang him high!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Amy

    He was able to get a permit because he entered into a diversionary program when he was arrested for guess what...FIGHTING WITH A COP.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. High Hopes

    Just what we don't need:

    A Certified Neighborhood Snitch
    With a Big Gun and Racial Slurs…


    Hey, in Forida, he's a Model Citizem!

    March 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DevilSlayer

    In most spanish speaking countries to our south the aboriginal people (Blacks) are the worst treated. So b/c he's cuban or whatever does not excuse his racial profiling and subsequent "lynching" of this young male. He should fry for this!

    March 21, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey

      Black people aren't "aboriginal" people to the Americas.

      March 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. samuel blair

    hearing it on the tv I heard it. i believe that a kid with nothing to hid should not have been shot it seems that he is not any kind of dealer and i personally think it was a little racial . he shouldn't be able to get away with that.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |


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

      I'm a conservative. But I quit attending party functions because they seemed like Klan rallies. It is my belief that the party has been taken over by racists. I have heard too much at rallies of what Zimmerman said in this audio to believe otherwise.

      Today the Republican Party is a racist organization bent on killing minorities. The fact that Zimmerman is alive and this audio is clear shows that. Jeb Bush may endorse Mitt Romney but he refuses to condemn this killing. There is proof. Solid proof.

      March 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • RomneyBushFail

      Jeb Bush has done great things like sign this travesty into law. Republicans just don't get it.

      March 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. High Hopes

    In all seriousness, he should fry…

    Or, we could feed him to the gators.



    You Suuuuuuck!

    Sorry, no justice, here!

    March 21, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff in San Diego

    I don't believe for a second that a 28 year old man who out weighs someone by 100 pounds and is 11 years older and who chases athe kid behind a house and who has a history of violence and who has harrassed police with his wannabe routine for months is innocent in this case. The guy is a coward and a freak and needs to be locked up for society's good. Maybe he's not a racist, but he's a freaking loose cannon who should never have been allowed to have a weapon. This is why the res of the world laughs at people in the South US.

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

      I'll agree with you on all points except "This is why the res of the world laughs at people in the South US." I don't think the rest of the world laughs at the southerners more then they laugh at the rest of the US.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • icanthearit

      That's prejudice against the people who live in the Southern Part of the US. I am deeply offended and hurt. My ego is bruised and the psychological damage is irreversible. SoCal people are the worst.

      March 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mickey

    that's exactly what I heard.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. High Hopes

    Prayers to the most sacred part of heaven
    for Trevon and the Martin Family.


    March 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. memcats

    Seems like the Sanford's police department has a history with arresting white folks who assault blacks in their city. The son of a Sanford's police officers is caught on video attacking a black homeless man, and he gets away without even being charged by the Sanford police department ..surprise, surprise, surprise

    March 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. pazke

    I didn't hear it. I think I heard Martin say "Why are you following me?" His girlfriend said that she heard him ask Zimmerman that and that is what it sounds like to me. I don't know, though, if this is at the same point in the tape as when they would have been face to face. If it is before he reached Martin then that is obviously not what I'm hearing. I don't think it really matters if he used a slur or not.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jay Williams

    This network has destroyed any chance of a fair trial by digitally altering this tape and playing it to the nation, along with commentary of what it says. I have never seen a network try so hard to lynch a man...

    March 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Actually no, your incorrect – the original 911 tapes will be submitted on discovery – it does nothing – or do you just hate the CNN for your own reasons.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • NJ

      You mean like how this man acted as judge jury and executioner for this young least he's still alive.. no sympathy here. Police exist for a reason if this idiot had simply done as advised by the operator would be no story.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. NorthernLight

    Please consider, neighbours to the south... you need gun control. Everyone, everywhere needs it. This is the stuff of vigilantes or perhaps, but no better, one person with really bad judgement or God knows what- and then a young life is taken. How can anyone feel secure? If this kid wasn't then you aren't either- all it takes is one person over the egde for whatever random reason. No one should have the right to bear arms- are we all in the wild wild west circa 18 something? We should all hope that the world has evolved since then....

    March 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Area Mann

      ah. A self-righteous, condescending Canadian. Thanks for counsel, since you guys have it all figured out.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • NorthernLight

      Ah yes Area Mann – don't you have anything real to say about the killing of Trayvon?

      March 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. pazke

    Okay, now that I listen to Brian Richards post, I changed my mind. He definitely says f-ing somthing, but it sounds like "punks" to me and not a slur. I'll say again, though, I don't think it matters what he called him. He's still guilty of manslaughter, at the very least.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
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