Zimmerman caught on tape: ‘Punks’


During a Feb. 29 interview, Sanford Police detectives Christopher Serino and Doris Singleton went over with George Zimmerman his non-emergency call to the department. The high-stakes sit-down with the killer of Trayvon Martin revealed some troubling inconsistencies. But it also provided answers.

One of the most incendiary snippets of Zimmerman’s non-emergency call to the Sanford Police Department came just before the dispatcher asked, “Are you following him?” There was fevered speculation that Zimmerman whispered a racial slur that rhymes with “tunes,” one favored by old-time Southern racists for whom the N-word might be considered impolite. At the time, I played that part of the call over and over again to try to determine with certainty that Zimmerman used the slur. When it comes up on the tape, Serino zeroed in on it.

“What is that you’re whispering there,” Serino asks? He plays it again for Zimmerman. “F#@!ing what?”

“Punks,” Zimmerman readily replied.

“F#@!ing punks,” Serino said. “He wasn’t a ‘f#@!ing punk.”

An audio expert told CNN in April that the offending word was “punks” and not the racial slur. Still, given the recent burglaries in the gated community, Zimmerman had a dim view of who he thought Trayvon was. He would learn more about him from Serino at the Sanford police station.

“This child has no criminal record whatsoever,” Serino said. “Good kid, a mild-mannered kid.” Trayvon was “a kid with a future, with folks that care.”

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.

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