J. D. Tippit
Dallas Police Department photo of Tippit in 1952
Dallas Police Department
(1924-09-18)September 18, 1924 – November 22, 1963(1963-11-22) (aged 39)
Place of birth Clarksville, Red River County, Texas
Place of death Dallas, Texas
Service branch United States
Years of service 1952 – 1963
Relations Marie Frances Gasway
Edgar Lee Tippit and Lizzie Mae Rush

J. D. Tippit (September 18, 1924 – November 22, 1963) wasan American police officer who was an 11-year veteran with the Dallas Police Department. On November 22, 1963, Tippit was fatally shot on a Dallas street approximately 45 minutes after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. According to five federal government investigations, Tippit was shot by former United States Marine Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald's initial arrest was for Tippit's murder, not Kennedy's.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Tippit was born in Clarksville, Red River County, Texas, to Edgar Lee Tippit, a farmer, and Lizzie Mae Rush. The Tippit and Rush families were of English ancestry, their ancestors having immigrated to Virginia from England by 1635.[1] It is sometimes reported that J.D. stood for "Jefferson Davis", but in fact, the letters did not stand for anything in particular.[2] Tippit attended public schools through the tenth grade and was raised as a Baptist. He entered the United States Army on July 21, 1944, and was assigned to the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the US 17th Airborne Division. He saw combat in Operation Varsity, the airborne crossing of the Rhine River in March 1945, earning a Bronze Star, and remained on active duty until June 20, 1946.

Tippit was married to Marie Frances Gasway on December 26, 1946, and the couple had three children (whose ages were 14, 10, and 5 at the time of his death[3]). That same year, he went to work for the Dearborn Stove Company. He next worked for Sears, Roebuck and Company in the installation department from March 1948 to September 1949, when he moved to Lone Star, Texas, and attempted cattle raising.

Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1944 – 1946
Unit 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 17th Airborne Division
Battles/wars World War II
*Battle of the Bulge
*Operation Varsity
Awards Bronze Star
World War II Victory Medal

Tippit attended a Veterans Administration vocational training school at Bogata, Texas, from January 1950 until June 1952. He was then hired by the Dallas Police Department as a patrolman on July 28, 1952. Officer Tippit served capably and was cited for bravery in 1956 for his role in disarming a fugitive.

At the time of his death, Tippit was assigned to Dallas Police vehicle #10, had badge #848 and was earning a salary of $5,880 a year as a Dallas police officer. He was also working two other part-time jobs.

Murder[edit | edit source]


Tippit's squad car on E. 10th Street in Dallas shortly after his shooting.

On November 22, 1963, J.D. Tippit was working beat number 78, his normal patrol area in south Oak Cliff, a residential area of Dallas.[4] At 12:45 p.m., 15 minutes after the President's assassination, Tippit received a radio order to move to the central Oak Cliff area as part of a concentration of police around the center of the city. At 12:54 Tippit radioed that he had moved as directed. By then several messages had been broadcast describing a suspect in the Kennedy assassination[5] as a slender white male, about 30 years old, 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall, and weighing about 165 pounds (75 kg).

According to the Warren Commission, at approximately 1:11–1:14 p.m.,[6] Tippit was driving slowly eastward on East 10th Street when — about 100 feet (30 m) past the intersection of 10th Street and Patton Avenue — he pulled alongside a man who resembled the broadcast description of Lee Harvey Oswald.[7][8] The man walked over to Tippit's car and apparently exchanged words with him through an open vent window.[9] Tippit opened his car door and as he walked toward the front of the car, the man drew a handgun and fired three shots in rapid succession, hitting Tippit three times in the chest. The man then walked up to Tippit's fallen body and fired a fourth shot directly into his head, fatally wounding him.[10]

The Warren Commission identified twelve people who witnessed the shooting,[11] or its aftermath.[12] Domingo Benavides saw Tippit standing by the left door of his parked police car, and a man standing on the right side of the car. He then heard shots and saw Tippit fall to the ground. Benavides stopped his pickup truck on the opposite side of the street from Tippit's car. He observed the shooter fleeing the scene and removing spent cartridge cases from his gun as he left. Benavides waited in his truck until the gunman disappeared before assisting Tippit. He then reported the shooting to police headquarters, using the radio in Tippit's car.[13] Helen Markham witnessed the shooting and then saw a man with a gun in his hand leave the scene.[14] Markham identified Lee Harvey Oswald as Tippit’s killer in a police lineup she viewed that evening.[15] Barbara Davis and her sister-in-law Virginia Davis heard the shots and saw a man crossing their lawn, shaking his revolver, as if he were emptying it of cartridge cases. Later, the women found two cartridge cases near the crime scene and handed the cases over to police. That evening, Barbara Davis and Virginia Davis were taken to a lineup and both Davises picked out Oswald as the man whom they had seen.[16]

Taxicab driver William Scoggins testified that he saw Tippit's police car pull up alongside a man on the sidewalk, as he his sat in his taxicab nearby. Scoggins heard three or four shots and then saw Tippit fall to the ground. As Scoggins crouched behind his cab, the man passed within twelve feet of him, pistol in hand, muttering what sounded to him like, "poor dumb cop" or "poor damn cop."[17] The next day, Scoggins viewed a police lineup and identified Oswald as the man whom he had seen with the pistol.[citation needed]

The Commission also named several other witnesses[18] who were not at the scene of the murder, but who claimed to have seen a man they later identified as Oswald running between the murder scene and the Texas Theater, where Oswald was subsequently arrested.[19]

Four cartridge cases were found at the scene by eyewitnesses. It was the unanimous testimony of expert witnesses before the Warren Commission that these spent cartridge cases were fired from the revolver in Oswald's possession to the exclusion of all other weapons.[20]

Criticism of the case against Oswald[edit | edit source]

Since the Warren Commission Report was published in 1964, some researchers have alleged discrepancies in witness testimony and physical evidence which they believe calls into question the Commission's conclusions regarding the murder of Tippit. These critics cite evidence indicating that Oswald may have had an accomplice in the killing, or that possibly Tippit was killed by an assailant (or assailants) other than Oswald. According to Warren Commission critic Jim Marrs, Oswald's guilt in the assassination of Kennedy is placed in question by the presence of "a growing body of evidence to suggest that [he] did not kill Tippit".[21] Others say that multiple men were directly involved in Tippit's killing. Conspiracy researcher Kenn Thomas has alleged that the Warren Commission omitted testimony and evidence that two men shot Tippit and that one left the scene in a car.[22]

William Alexander, the Dallas assistant district attorney who had recommended that Oswald be charged with the Kennedy and Tippit murders, has also been critical of the Commission's version of the murder, stating that its conclusions on Oswald's movements "did not add up", and that "certainly, he may have had accomplices."[23]

Allegations regarding timeline[edit | edit source]

Some researchers, including Anthony Summers and Robert Groden, point to evidence that Tippit's murder may have taken place earlier than the time given in the Warren Report.[24][25][26] The Warren Commission concluded that the shooting occurred at 1:16 p.m. from the police tapes that logged Domingo Benavides' use of the radio in Tippit's car. However, Benavides testified that he did not approach the car until "a few minutes" after the shooting, because he was afraid that the gunman might return.[27] He was assisted in using the radio by witness T.F. Bowley, who testified to Dallas police that he arrived at the scene after the murder, and that the time was 1:10 p.m.[28]

Some critics of the Warren Commission version believe that Oswald did not have sufficient time to travel the nine-tenths of a mile from his house to the scene where Tippit was killed.[29] The timing is of critical importance because, according to the Warren Commission, Oswald arrived at his rooming house at around 1:00 p.m.,[30] then left "3 or 4 minutes" later,[31] and was last seen by his housekeeper a moment later standing at the corner bus stop.[32] The Commission’s own test[33] and estimation of Oswald’s walking speed[34] demonstrated that one of the longer routes to the Tippit shooting scene took 17 minutes and 45 seconds to walk.[35] Additionally, no witness ever surfaced who saw Oswald walk from his rooming house to the murder scene.[36]

Witness Helen Markham stated in her affidavit to the Dallas Sheriff’s department that Tippit was killed at "approximately 1:06 pm." She later affirmed the time in testimony before the Warren Commission, saying: "I wouldn't be afraid to bet it wasn't 6 or 7 minutes after 1."[37][38] Deputy Sheriff Roger Craig stated that when he heard the news that Tippit had been shot, he looked at his watch and noted that the time was 1:06 p.m. However, in a later statement to the press, Craig seemed unsure about the time of the shooting.[39]

Warren "Butch" Burroughs, who ran the concession stand at the Texas Theater where Oswald was arrested, said that Oswald came into the theater between 1:00 and 1:07 p.m., which if true would make Oswald's alleged 1:16 shooting of Officer J.D. Tippit impossible.[40][41]

Allegations regarding witness testimony and physical evidence[edit | edit source]

Only two Commission witnesses were identified as actually having seen the shooting, Helen Markham and Domingo Benavides. Joseph Ball, senior counsel to the Commission, has referred to Markham's testimony as "full of mistakes," and characterized her as an "utter screwball."[42]

Domingo Benavides initially said that he did not think he could identify the assailant and was never asked to view a police lineup,[43] even though he was the person closest to the killing.[44] Benavides later testified that that the killer resembled pictures he had seen of Oswald.[45] Other witnesses were taken to police lineups. However, these lineups have been criticized as flawed in that they consisted of people who looked very different from Oswald. In one case, the lineup was composed of five "young teenagers" and Oswald.[46][47]

Additionally, certain witnesses who did not appear before the Commission identified an assailant who was not Oswald. Both Acquilla Clemons and Frank Wright witnessed the scene from their respective homes, within one block of the murder. Clemons saw two men near Tippit’s car just before the shooting.[48] After the shooting, she ran outside and saw a man with a gun whom she described as "kind of heavy." He waved to the second man, urging him to "go on".[49] Frank Wright also emerged from his home and observed the scene seconds after the shooting. He described a man standing by Tippit’s body who had on a long coat, and who quickly ran to a car parked nearby and drove away.[50][51][52] There have also been concerns about ballistic evidence and finger print evidence on the police car that seemed to make it less likely that Oswald was the killer.

Some researchers have questioned whether the cartridge cases recovered from the scene were the same as those that were subsequently entered into evidence. Two of the cases were recovered by witness Domingo Benavides and turned over to police officer J.M. Poe. Poe told the FBI that he marked the shells with his own initials, "J.M.P." to identify them.[53] Sergeant Gerald Hill later testified to the Warren Commission that it was he who had ordered police officer Poe to mark the shells.[54] However, Poe's initials were not found on the shells produced by the FBI six months later.[53][55][56] Testifying before the Warren Commission, Poe said that although he recalled marking the cases, he "couldn’t swear to it."[57][58] Poe later told researchers that he was absolutely certain that he had marked the shells.[59] The identification of the cartridge cases at the crime scene raises more questions. Sergeant Gerald Hill examined one of the shells and radioed the police dispatcher, saying: "The shell at the scene indicates that the suspect is armed with an automatic .38 rather than a pistol."[60] However, Oswald was reportedly arrested carrying a non-automatic .38 Special revolver.[61][62] The number of cartridge shells found at the crime scene raises further questions for some. Sergeant Gerald Hill, who took possession of Oswald's revolver upon his arrest, reported that the gun's six chambers were fully loaded with unspent cartridges and that Oswald had no ammunition on his person.[63]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

On the evening of the assassination, both Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and the new President, Lyndon B. Johnson, called Tippit's widow to express their sympathies.[64] Jacqueline Kennedy wrote a letter expressing sorrow for the bond they shared. The plight of Tippit's family also moved much of the nation and a total of $647,579 ($4.5 million in 2009) was donated to them following the assassination. One of the largest individual gifts was the $25,000 ($176,600 in 2009) that Abraham Zapruder donated after selling his film of the assassination.

A funeral service for J.D. Tippit was held on November 25, 1963, at the Beckley Hills Baptist Church, with the burial following at Laurel Land Memorial Park in Dallas.[64] His funeral occurred on the same day as those of both Kennedy and Oswald.[65][66]

In January 1964, Tippit was posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor from the American Police Hall of Fame, and he also received the Police Medal of Honor, the Police Cross, and the Citizens Traffic Commission Award of Heroism.

Tippit's widow married Dallas police lieutenant Harry Dean Thomas in January 1967.

Popular culture[edit | edit source]

In movies, Tippit has been portrayed by Price Carson in 1991's JFK, and David Duchovny in 1992's Ruby.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Skordas Gust, The Early Settlers of Maryland: An Index To Names of Immigrants Compiled From Records of Land Patents, 1633–1680, in The Hall of Records, Annapolis, Maryland, 1968, Genealogical Publishing Co., p.465
  2. Dale K. Myers, "Biography: A Boy Named J.D.", J.D. Tippit Official Home Page.
  3. Congressional Record of the 88th Congress, 1963: House of Representatives. p. 23471. 
  4. Warren Commission Report, Chapter 4 — The Assassin, The Killing of Patrolman J. D. Tippit, p. 165.
  5. Warren Commission Report, page 5.
  6. The first report of Tippit's shooting was transmitted over Police Channel 1 some time between 1:16 and 1:19 p.m., as indicated by verbal time stamps made periodically by the dispatcher. Specifically, the first report began 1 minute 41 seconds after the 1:16 time stamp. Before that, witness Domingo Benavides could be heard unsuccessfully trying to use Tippit's police radio microphone, beginning at 1:16. Dale K. Myers, With Malice: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Murder of Officer J.D. Tippit, 1998, p. 384. ISBN 0-9662709-7-5.
  7. Oswald was 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall and weighed 150 pounds (68 kg). Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXVI, p. 521.
  8. Warren Commission Report, page 7.
  9. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 19, p. 113, Barnes Exhibit A, Right side of Tippit squad car, showing open wing vent window. Mrs. Markham was on the opposite side of the street and a half block back.
  10. Groden, Robert. The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald, (New York: Penguin Group, 1995), p. 129. ISBN 0-670-85867-6
  11. Warren Commission Report, page 166
  12. By the evening of November 22, five of them (Helen Markham, Barbara Davis, Virginia Davis, Ted Callaway, Sam Guinyard) had identified Lee Harvey Oswald in police lineups as the man they saw. A sixth (William Scoggins) did so the next day. Three others (Harold Russell, Pat Patterson, Warren Reynolds) subsequently identified Oswald from a photograph. Two witnesses (Domingo Benavides, William Smith) testified that Oswald resembled the man they had seen. One witness (L.J. Lewis) felt he was too distant from the gunman to make a positive identification. Warren Commission Hearings, CE 1968, Location of Eyewitnesses to the Movements of Lee Harvey Oswald in the Vicinity of the Tippit Killing.
  13. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 6, Testimony of Domingo Benavides.
  14. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 3, p. 305, Testimony of Mrs. Helen Markham.
  15. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 3, p. 318, Testimony of Helen Markham.
  16. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 3, p. 342, Testimony of Mrs. Barbara Jeanette Davis. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 6, p. 454, Testimony of Mrs. Charlie Virginia Davis.
  17. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 3, pp. 322-27, Testimony of William W. Scoggins.
  18. Warren Commission Report, pp. 166–169. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 23, p. 817, CE 1968, Location of eyewitnesses to the movements of Lee Harvey Oswald in the vicinity of the Tippit killing.
  19. Warren Commission Report, page 8.
  20. Warren Commission Report, Appendix 10: Expert Testimony, Revolver Cartridges and Cartridge Cases.
  21. Marrs, Jim. Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1989), p. 340. ISBN 0-88184-648-1
  22. Thomas, Kenn, ed. (2000). "The Tippit Connection". Cyberculture Counterconspiracy: A Steamshovel Web Reader. 2. Escondido, California: The Book Tree. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-58509-126-3. http://books.google.com/books?id=IBLhW_rNZcoC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA55#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  23. Summers, Anthony, Not in Your Lifetime, Warner Books, 1998, ISBN 0-7515-1840-9, p. 75.
  24. Summers, Anthony, Not in Your Lifetime, Warner Books, 1998, ISBN 0-7515-1840-9, p. 72.
  25. Groden, Robert. The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald, (New York: Penguin Group, 1995), pp. 134-137. ISBN 0-670-85867-6
  26. The Killing of Patrolman J.D. Tippit, Warren Commission Report, Chapter 4, The Assassin, p. 165.
  27. Testimony of Domingo Benavides, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 6, p. 448.
  28. Commission Exhibit No. 2003, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 24, p. 202.
  29. Perry 2003, p. 391.
  30. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 6, p. 440, Testimony of Earlene Roberts. His housekeeper testified that "it must have been around 1 o'clock, or maybe a little after," but then concluded, "what time I wouldn't want to say." The Warren Commission estimated that Oswald arrived at his rooming house "about 12:59 to 1 p.m." (Warren Commission Report, Chapter 4: The Assassin, p. 163). The HSCA, in its reconstruction of the event, concluded Oswald arrived at “approximately 12:55 P.M.” (HSCA Record 180-10115-10004, September 19, 1977, p. 2).
  31. Testimony of Earlene Roberts, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 6, p. 440.
  32. Affidavit of Earlene Roberts, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 7, p. 439, December 5, 1963.
  33. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 6, p.434, Testimony of William W. Whaley. The route Commission investigators walked "at an average walking pace" to the Tippit shooting site in 17 minutes 45 seconds was described in testimony as the "long way around route", and "not the most direct route".
  34. calculated from the time of events given in the Warren Report by researcher Sylvia Meagher, see Accessories After the Fact, Vintage Books, ISBN 0-679-74315-4, p. 255
  35. Other researchers disagree. The Warren Commission measured the distance from Oswald's rooming house to the site of Tippit's shooting as nine-tenths of a mile (1.4 km). A person walking at a pace of 4 miles (6.4 km) per hour would take 12 minutes 45 seconds to make the journey. A filmed reenactment traveled the distance in 11 minutes 10 seconds.
  36. Hurt, Henry, Reasonable Doubt, Henry Holt & Co., 1988. ISBN 0-03-004059-0 p.145
  37. Testimony of Mrs. Helen Markham, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 3, p. 306.
  38. Groden, Robert. The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald, (New York: Penguin Group, 1995), p. 136. ISBN 0-670-85867-6
  39. Craig, Roger, When They Kill a President, 1971, ASIN: B00072DT18. Yet Craig wrote in that same account,
    At that exact moment [of the discovery of Oswald's rifle in the Texas School Book Depository] an unknown Dallas police officer came running up the stairs and advised Capt. Fritz that a Dallas policeman had been shot in the Oak Cliff area. I instinctively looked at my watch. The time was 1:06 p.m. A token force of uniformed officers was left to keep the sixth floor secure and Fritz, Day, Boone, Mooney, Weitzman and I left the building.
    However, witness Seymour Weitzman testified to the Warren Commission that Oswald's rifle was not discovered until about 1:22 p.m. (Testimony of Seymour Weitzman, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 7, p. 109) Craig gave an even later time for the Tippit shooting — 1:40 p.m. — in an interview with Penn Jones published in the Los Angeles Free Press in March 1968. He accepted Jones' correction that it was "a little before 1:15."
  40. Douglass, James. JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, (New York: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2008), pp. 290, 466. ISBN 978-1-4391-9388-4
  41. Turner, Nigel. The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Part 4, "The Patsy", 1991.
  42. Summers, Anthony, Not in Your Lifetime, Warner Books, 1998, ISBN 0-7515-1840-9, p. 68.
  43. Testimony of Domingo Benavides, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 6, pp. 451-52.
  44. Marrs, Jim. Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1989), p. 341. ISBN 0-88184-648-1
  45. Testimony of Domingo Benavides, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 6, p. 452.
  46. Marrs, Jim. Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1989), p. 341. ISBN 0-88184-648-1
  47. Turner, Nigel. The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Part 5, "The Witnesses", 1991.
  48. Turner, Nigel. The Men Who Killed Kennedy, Part 4, "The Patsy", 1991.
  49. Summers, Anthony, Not in Your Lifetime, Warner Books, 1998, ISBN 0-7515-1840-9, pp. 70-71. Two eyewitnesses to the aftermath, Sam Guinyard and Ted Callaway, ran to 10th and Patton and found Tippit lying in the street beside his car. Callaway picked up Tippit's gun, which lay beneath him outside of the holster. He and Scoggins attempted to chase down the gunman in Scoggin's taxicab. Warren Commission Report, p. 169.
  50. Interview November 12, 1964 by George and Patricia Nash for The New Leader. Wright claimed that the killer escaped the crime scene in a gray automobile; he later altered his story, claiming that it was another man who drove off in the gray coupe, while the killer ran alongside, yelling back and forth with the driver. Myers, pp. 76–78.
  51. Marrs, Jim. Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1989), p. 342. ISBN 0-88184-648-1
  52. Summers, Anthony, Not in Your Lifetime, Warner Books, 1998, ISBN 0-7515-1840-9, p. 71.
  53. 53.0 53.1 Commission Exhibit No. 2011, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 24, p. 415.
  54. Testimony of Gerald Lynn Hill, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 7, p. 49.
  55. Marrs, Jim. Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1989), p. 343. ISBN 0-88184-648-1
  56. Summers, Anthony, Not in Your Lifetime, Warner Books, 1998, ISBN 0-7515-1840-9, p. 69.
  57. Marrs, Jim. Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1989), p. 343. ISBN 0-88184-648-1
  58. Testimony of J.M. Poe, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 7, p. 69.
  59. Hurt, Henry, Reasonable Doubt, Henry Holt & Co., 1988. ISBN 0-03-004059-0 p.153
  60. Commission Exhibit No. 1974, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 23, p. 870.
  61. Marrs, Jim. Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy, (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1989), p. 342. ISBN 0-88184-648-1
  62. Summers, Anthony, Not in Your Lifetime, Warner Books, 1998, ISBN 0-7515-1840-9, p. 70.
  63. Groden, Robert, "The Killing of a President," Penguin Books, 1993 ISBN 0-670-85267-8 pp. 97–100.
  64. 64.0 64.1 Herbers, John (November 26, 1963). "Slain Policeman Is Honored by Dallas". The New York Times: p. 15. 
  65. Associated Press (November 26, 1963). "Bells Toll for Officer Tippit". The Boston Globe: p. 10. 
  66. Janson, Donald (November 26, 1963). "Oswald Is Buried in Texas in a Wooden Coffin". The New York Times: p. 14. 

Further reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

da:J. D. Tippit de:J. D. Tippit es:J.D. Tippit fr:J. D. Tippit he:ג'יי. די. טיפיט nl:J.D. Tippit pt:J. D. Tippit sh:J. D. Tippit

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