Dallas Law Enforcement: Voices from History

All Exhibits

Shooting of Oswald

The Sheriff's Department handled the routine transfer of prisoners from police custody at the city jail to the sheriff's custody at the county jail.  Yet Oswald's transfer on Sunday, November 24, was handled entirely by Dallas police.  In order to give the news media advance notice, Oswald's transfer was tentatively planned for some time after 10:00 a.m.

Oswald, handcuffed to Homicide Detective James Leavelle and surrounded by other detectives, was led through the basement of Dallas police headquarters to a waiting car. At 11:21 a.m., Ruby stepped through a crowd of journalists and fired a single shot into Oswald. Oswald was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:07 p.m.

Dallas law enforcement—particularly Chief Curry and the Dallas Police Department—were severely criticized after the assassination for failing to protect President Kennedy and his accused assassin. However, just as many—particularly the seasoned local reporters who knew the officers and worked with them frequently—were quick to defend the work done by the Dallas police under such difficult circumstances. The Warren Commission later concluded that, although the Dallas police were primarily responsible, the news media was partly to blame and "failed to respond properly to the demands of the police" and exhibited "a regrettable lack of self-discipline."  

Today, most of the surviving law enforcement officials remain confident that Lee Harvey Oswald was the murderer of President Kennedy and Officer J.D. Tippit. They cite the evidence uncovered at the Texas School Book Depository and the Tippit murder scene—and also note that Oswald was in police custody within 80 minutes of the shooting in Dealey Plaza. Some suggest that, had Oswald actually gone to trial, there would now be no mystery surrounding the Kennedy assassination.