Ed Hoffman is a deaf-mute who, he says, witnessed the actions of two or more men atop the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963, who were, according to his account, involved in the killing of John F. Kennedy. Ed witnessed these even from a vantage point about 250 yards away as he stood atop an overpass on Stemmons Freeway near where JFK’s motorcade would enter the highway on its final leg to the Trade Mart for a luncheon.
Ed relates how he had stopped along the highway hoping to get a view of the President. As the time for the motorcade’s arrival approached, his attention was drawn to a couple of men having conversations in the railroad yards above the grassy knoll. Ed could see the railroad yards clearly. One man was wearing a suit, the other the work clothes of a railroad worker; another man who figures into the story wore a plaid shirt.
For some reason, Ed’s attention was riveted on these men instead of the approaching motorcade he’d come to see, clearly visible as it turned from Main onto Houston. As the motorcade wound through Dealey Plaza largely out of Ed’s sight, he noticed a puff of smoke among the trees on the north end of the plaza, which he initially thought was from a cigarette. Then the man in the suit, who had been out of Ed’s view at the time, came running into sight carrying a rifle. He passed the weapon to the man in work clothes, and then casually returned to where he’d come from.
“Train man,” as Ed calls him the man in work clothes, “broke down” the rifle and secreted it in some sort of carrying case or bag, and then ran north along the tracks into the railroad yard, where he was eventually lost from Ed’s view. Ed next saw JFK’s limousine speeding up the highway entrance ramp, blood everywhere and JFK’s head “blown open ... like red Jell-o.” He quickly realized that the men with the rifle had shot the President. [Sloan, 19]
Ed then ran along the highway while waving to get the attention of a police officer on top of the Texas & Pacific railroad bridge that spans Stemmons Freeway, but was apparently unable to do so. He then ran to his car, jumped in and sped off to the next exit at Continental Avenue, alternately either in search of “train man,” or looking for police to alert them to what he’d seen.
There is more to the story than is related above, including how Ed came to be standing on Stemmons Freeway and where he’d gone after the shooting, but for our purposes the ones above are sufficient. If they are not complete or vary slightly from versions the reader may be familiar with, it is because the reportage of Ed’s story seems to have evolved in the telling.
Jim Marrs first reported Ed’s story in Gary Mack’s “Coverups!” newsletter then later revised for Crossfire (Carroll & Graf, New York NY, 1989, pp 81-85, trade paperback edition). It was expanded by Bill Sloan in Breaking the Silence (Taylor Publishing Company, Dallas TX, 1993, pp 10-49), and still later broadcast by Nigel Turner in The Men Who Killed Kennedy. Ed himself collaborated with Ron Friedrich, his translator/editor, in writing a 75-page book that detailed his experiences on and after November 22, 1963 (Eye Witness, JFK Lancer Productions and Publications, Grand Prairie Texas, 1997).
In each of the first four published accounts, the details of Ed’s sighting of the men, their actions and his own vary, sometimes significantly. Ed’s own account sets out to “not to just get the whole story out, but to get the whole story right.” [Eye Witness, 2; emphasis in the original] We will therefore rely more on Ed’s own account, but still consider those of Marrs and Sloan, which latter account Ed cites as a “very good description of [his] life and experience” compared to which “none” of the other accounts are “as complete” [ibid. 3, 24].
Eye Witness purports to be “the first time a published version of his story has been translated back to Mr. Hoffman in American Sign Language, allowing him to check it for accuracy.” [ibid. 2] One should be able to safely presume that it is, in fact, as accurate as it can be. Still, it offers only that other witnesses and photographs taken during and after the crime “substantiate” his version of events. We are therefore left to accept or reject his story based on conjecture, that is, on faith rather than on evidence.
Ed’s story is controversial because, as Ed himself acknowledges, there is “no proof that he was even present at the scene,” although this acknowledgement is tempered somewhat by the qualification that the “only ‘proof’ that Ed Hoffman can show that he was where he claimed to be ... is his detailed description of the crime scene.” [ibid. 1-2; emphasis and quotes in the original] He made no official statements or reports until more than three years after the assassination, and those do not reflect any of the details that are included in later, published versions of Ed’s story.
These and other variations in Ed’s story as told by other authors are dismissed by Eye Witness as “interpreter errors,” attributed to hearing people’s not being able to understand American Sign Language, or not being “qualified” to “interpret” it. It is nevertheless difficult to imagine that so few people are able to understand a standardized language, or that it is so open to broad interpretation.
Eye Witness adds that Ed sometimes waits to describe unimportant details until after he has “first hit the high points,” and thus sequences of events may not always be in the same order. [EW, 25] Any lack of consistency is therefore attributable only to others’ lack of understanding, but not to any actual differences in the story.
Substance Abuse. The citations most commonly used to “substantiate” Ed’s story in the early days of its being known (i.e., after its publication in Crossfire) are that he was aware of “crowds along Stemmons Freeway,” a policeman atop the Texas & Pacific railroad bridge that spans the freeway just north of Elm and Commerce Streets, and his seeing a Secret Service agent in the President’s follow-up car apparently with an automatic weapon (SA George Hickey). [Crossfire, 82] These are, supposedly, things he “couldn’t have known if he wasn’t there.”
Other “substantiating facts” have since developed, including Ed’s:
... seeing a man in a plaid shirt walking up to “the man in the
business suit” (“suit man”) standing by the fence, substantiated by the fact
that “Lee Bowers witnessed the same conversation.” [EW, 7]
What Bowers actually said was that he’d seen a man in a “either a plaid shirt or plaid coat or jacket” and a man “in a white shirt, fairly dark trousers” were standing “within 10 or 15 feet of each other,” but that the men “gave no appearance of being together,” hardly the same as witnessing a conversation. [6H287]
Ed says he didn’t mention the man in plaid in early versions of his story because he “didn’t think he counted” [EW, 7-8]. Apparently, he didn’t. (Note also that Bowers’ “suit man” is not wearing a jacket);
... noticing “two automobiles driving around the rail yard
at different times” which are described as “a white station wagon and a green
Rambler.” [ibid., emphasis in the original]
Not having mentioned this “embarrassed” Ed because “he had always assumed that those two cars were out there just looking for parking space,” which is “why he said nothing about them to the FBI, Jim Marrs or other early researchers” until he learned that there was “an issue” over them “based on Lee Bowers’ testimony.” [ibid.]
In his testimony, however, Bowers described three cars: “the first car was a 1959 Oldsmobile, blue and white station wagon;” that “there was another car which was a 1957 black Ford;” and the third was “a 1961 or 1962 Chevrolet, four-door Impala, white....” No “white station wagon,” no “green” car of any kind, and no Rambler;
... seeing “three men in railroad workman” (sic;
“workman’s clothes?”) standing “on the first bridge of the Triple Underpass”
leaning on the guard rail looking out over Dealey Plaza; one of them is assumed
to be Sam Holland.
Lee Bowers identified five men (“... one railroad employee, a signal man ... and two welders ... and there was also a laborer’s assistant,”) [6H287] and Sam Holland himself identified ten men beside himself (six by name, three whose names he didn’t know, and two policemen). [6H240] J.W. Foster, one of the officers on the bridge, said there were “10 or 11” men in addition to himself [6H250]. Ed saw only three?
· ... witnessing the exchange between DPD Officer Joe Marshall Smith and “suit man” presenting what Smith understood to be Secret Service credentials.
The Train Game. Inexplicably, Ed insists that a train passed over the Triple Underpass immediately after the shooting, and provides graphic details of its having “completely obstructed his view” of the train yards “by the time the President’s limo had passed by” him, an assertion disputed by the photographic record. [EW, 15]
In the Mel McIntyre photo below (next page), taken as the presidential limo was fast approaching the east side of the overpass that Ed says he was standing on, we see that there is no train on the Triple Underpass, nor even one coming into sight at the right, southern-most end of the bridge.
It is appropriate to note here that no assassination witness other than DPD Patrolman J.C. White, stationed on the west end of the Triple Underpass, claimed to have seen a train during this time. White claimed that a train was crossing the bridge while the shooting in Dealey Plaza was taking place, and that the first he saw of the motorcade was after it had passed under the Triple Underpass, that is, just moments before McIntyre shot the above photo:
Mr. BALL. Did you see the President's car come into
Mr. WHITE. No, sir; first time I saw it had passed, passed under the triple underpass.
You were too far away to see it, were you?
Mr. WHITE. There was a freight train traveling. There was a train passing between the location I was standing and the area from which the procession was traveling, and – a big long freight train, and I did not see it. [6H255]
(Proponents of Ed’s story have pointed out that J.W. Foster, the officer stationed on the east side of the Triple Underpass, later claimed not only to have seen the train described by his partner – a “three-engine freight train,” in Foster’s recollection – but also to having been told by a bystander that a man had run north into the train yards from the area at the north end of the bridge. In that recollection [Larry Sneed, No More Silence, University of North Press, Denton TX, 1998; page 212], Foster also claimed to have spent the next 15 minutes searching railroad cars in the train yard, which he had specifically stated in his 1964 sworn Warren Commission testimony that he had not done, [6H252] thus calling his recollection of the train and the running man into question.)
At the time McIntyre’s photo was taken, JFK’s limo was approximately 1/10 mile from where Ed was standing on the opposite side of the freeway. If the car was traveling only 30 mph, it would have taken just over five seconds to reach a point where it had “passed by” Ed; any faster and it would have passed him even sooner. A train that was just moving into McIntyre’s photo area at the time he took the photo would have to travel 68 yards in the same amount of time - i.e., at over 10 mph - to “completely obstruct” Ed’s view.
While 10 mph is slow for an automobile, freight trains cannot reach 10 mph from a dead stop very quickly, and likewise cannot slow down and stop from that speed in a short distance. So either Ed’s train would have already been at or approaching that speed by the time it reached the bridge, or being unable to stop, would have been forced to go over the bridge just as Kennedy was beneath it.
The Police Department, however, had arranged with the railroads that they would not have trains crossing any of the overpasses along the parade route at the time the Presidential party was passing. It was Lee Bowers’ job to ensure that this was the case in the Terminal Annex yards, as he was “operating the switches and signals controlling the movement of trains” at the time and place of the assassination. [6H284]
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs, and Ed’s story is certainly extraordinary. If Ed had known all of these things on November 22, 1963, and had reported them then to someone in authority who might then have taken Ed’s information down as best as he would have been able to, then perhaps there would be no question as to the validity of his story. If his initial 1967 interview with the FBI had disclosed any such details - or perhaps even if his 1977 interview had - there might be a little less controversy.
It is impossible to judge what he did know on November 22, and what he’d learned afterward – and Sloan tells us that “Ed read every article and devoured every published detail about the case,” [Sloan, 26] an assertion not disputed by Ed in Eye Witness. We therefore can presume that Ed had at least a more than cursory knowledge of the assassination, whether he’d seen any part of it or not. It appears, based on that, as if some aspects of publicly known information have managed to find its way into what was initially a simple narrative.
The two series of interviews Ed had with FBI agents are marked by three common things: first, they were initiated by Ed’s fellow workers; the fellow workers provided Ed no further “assistance” once they had contacted the FBI “for” him; and none of them provide the degree of detail that has since crept into Ed’s story.
These are all important considerations, especially in light of Ed’s relative inability to communicate effectively with most people. Clearly, all of the men who contacted the FBI on Ed’s behalf - Jim Dowdy, one of Ed’s supervisors at Texas Instruments, and Tom Cordner, a co-worker, as well as another of Ed’s co-workers, Richard Freeman, who translated Ed’s ASL for the FBI over the phone - were aware of Ed’s handicap. Cordner even explained to them that Ed “had a great deal of difficulty communicating.” They seem to have done little else to assist Ed in making certain that he was understood.
For instance, in the first instance, in 1967, Dowdy was told by the FBI to tell Ed that he “should put in writing in detail everything he saw of the assassination.” Dowdy apparently didn’t bother to relay that to Ed, since Ed showed up alone at the Dallas FBI office the next day (despite knowing that he “needed ... a speaking person who was fluent in sign language to go with him” [Sloan, 28]) with no written description of anything that he’d seen. He was left to gesture and jot out quick notes to attempt to tell his story, which the FBI agent he spoke with seems nevertheless to have gleaned a fair amount from, even if it wasn’t all of Ed’s story.
(Eye Witness dismisses this omission by simply noting that “the FBI report states that the FBI wanted a written statement from Ed, but there is no indication that they ever got one” [EW, 20], as if this is somehow the FBI’s shortcoming.)
In 1977, Richard Freeman acted as an intermediary over the phone between Ed and the FBI; he even went to Dealey Plaza with Ed to better understand what Ed was trying to tell him, and even told the FBI as much. Then, when it was time for Ed to meet an FBI agent again the next day, Freeman didn’t go with him, leaving Ed once again to fend for himself. Once again, the FBI “failed to get the whole story.” The question is, whose fault is that?
It is impossible to know why these men put Ed in touch with the FBI and then effectively abandoned him in his attempt to tell the story to a hearing person who probably did not understand ASL. They may have been trying to be benignly helpful to the extent that they could, or they may have been setting Ed up for ridicule. That Freeman went to the lengths of accompanying Ed to Dealey Plaza one day, but then did not go with him to meet with the FBI the next, shows at least that they didn’t do all that they could have done to help him.
The report generated by the FBI lacks the details that have wound their way into Ed’s tale. Initially, Ed claimed only to have been “standing a few feet south of the railroad on Stemmons Freeway” when he’d “observed two while males, clutching something dark to their chests with both hands, running from the rear” of the TSBD.
The most striking detail that did not find its way into the FBI’s 1967 report is that of the rifle. It is the central issue of Ed’s narrative, for without it, there’s no story to tell other than of men walking and talking in the railroad yards. Anyone who’s ever played “soldier” as a child can pantomime a rifle being fired and be understood by another, so how did this little detail manage to escape the FBI’s notice? “Interpreter error?”
What it comes down to – assuming that the FBI did not understand Ed – is that there is no certain way to know what, exactly, Ed was telling people in those days. The details of what Ed told – or tried to tell – the FBI during these interviews are ultimately not important if they were not understood and transcribed correctly and/or fully.
Ed’s having “read every article and devoured every published detail about the case” is testimony to the fact that Ed could and may well have picked up additional details other than what he claims to have observed on the side of Stemmons Freeway, including those that he “couldn’t know if he wasn’t there.”
The story that has become familiar today is not the same as reported to or by the FBI, but is that because the FBI didn’t understand Ed, or because Ed was telling a different story?
Because we cannot state with certainty the origin of the “additional details” that have emerged in later years, let us return then to the scene where Ed claims to have been for, if he was not there, the rest is hardly probative.
We will not be concerned with the various routes that Ed is said to have taken to arrive at the northbound entrance to Stemmons Freeway from Elm Street, nor whether he recalled that the President was coming to town and having a parade or not, or what events might have jogged his memory of that - all of which vary from one account to another - but simply where he was and what he did and saw in the crucial few minutes after the motorcade entered Dealey Plaza from Main Street. We shall first entertain Ed’s story and then examine the record.
The rough map and aerial photo below shows the position Ed had parked his car and stood when he witnessed events in Dealey Plaza; he had originally picked a location at the foot of the entrance ramp, but decided he didn’t like it so relocated to this position. No one else was on the overpass with him. [EW, 6] He found himself with a “ringside seat” into Dealey Plaza and “was really surprised that there was nobody else there to take advantage of it.” [Sloan, 15]
It was a curious position, to be sure. While Ed related through a “professional interpreter” that he could see the motorcade enter Dealey Plaza, [Sloan, 15-16] he also states that because “the highway was wide enough to block my view down to Elm Street on the east side of the highway” – that is, that he could not see the motorcade on the section of roadway between the Triple Underpass and the Stemmons overpass – he “couldn’t see the car until it passed under Stemmons on the entrance ramp.” [EW, 9]
Thus, Ed’s first close-up view of of Kennedy’s limousine would have been similar to the image on the next page, a frame from The Men Who Killed Kennedy [clip] taken at Ed’s purported position on the highway while Ed was standing there with the cameraman.
Since Ed “didn’t know anything about the plans for the motorcade” [Sloan, 14] – but he nevertheless “remembered from the newspaper maps” that Kennedy’s route would take him north on Stemmons from Elm! [EW, 5] – it is particularly curious that he’d choose a place from which his only view of Kennedy might have been the roof of his car.
(Sloan attempts to explain this by noting that “if the top was down on the limousine – and the clear blue sky overhead gave every indication that it would be – Ed would be close enough to see everyone in the presidential party with perfect clarity,” [page 15] but does not explain how a man who “didn’t know anything about the plans for the motorcade” would have known about the removable top!)
Ed says that when the limousine came into view, he saw Kennedy slumped down in the car, his head “like bloody Jell-O.” [EW, 10] Ed instantly put two and two together, realized the men in the train yards had shot JFK, and – in one version of events – ran down the embankment waving his arms hoping to get the attention of the Secret Service agents in the follow-up car to alert them to the men with the rifle in the railroad yards.
It was then, in Crossfire, that Ed noticed one of the agents with what appeared to be a “machine gun,” pointing it directly at him. He quickly stopped, and when the cars had passed by him, he ran along the highway, waving his arms to get the attention of the solitary police officer atop the T&P railroad bridge. [Marrs, 82]
In his own somewhat less dramatic account (Sloan doesn’t describe this incident), Ed says he noticed the weapon as the follow-up car sped past him on the entrance ramp below him as he ran along the highway shoulder waving his arms to get the attention the cop on the railroad bridge (misidentified as J.W. Foster, who was on the east side of the Triple Underpass). After the motorcade passed and having failed to get “Foster’s” attention, Ed then ran to his car and headed north on Stemmons to the first exit at Continental Avenue, and then into downtown in search of someone in authority to tell what he’d seen. [EW, 10]
(Marrs and Sloan each next take Ed into the Dealey Plaza area, the former describing Ed being able to drive around behind the TSBD in search of the men he’d seen “for some time and then leave without being stopped or questioned by authorities,” [Marrs, 83] but also without attempting to communicate with any of the dozens of officers there about the men. Sloan depicts Ed going to “the parking area by the railroad yards,” but leaving the area because of all the “panic” and “mass confusion.” He did not attempt to approach any of the police there because he “didn’t know how to communicate with any of them.” “Instead,” Sloan says, Ed decided to “try to report what he had seen to the police” (!). [Sloan, 20])
Exit Stage Right. One criticism of Ed’s departure from the scene is that he would have had to cross five lanes of northbound traffic within about 250 yards to be able to exit to Continental. This criticism does not take into account a critical factor, that being that traffic on Stemmons Freeway had been halted to let the motorcade proceed without any vehicles passing it on its final leg from downtown to the Trade Mart. Thus, Ed would have been theoretically able to cross the highway unhindered by speeding traffic to make the exit.
This generally unknown factor, however, while seeming to provide support for Ed’s story, actually undermines it. Obviously, a lone policeman (or even two) on top of a railroad bridge could not have stopped traffic; someone – presumably police – must have done so at ground level. Since Ed’s avowed goal was to report what he’d seen to the authorities, why didn’t he try to bring it to the attention of whoever stopped the traffic? This question becomes a central issue in our examination of the record.
Despite all the planning and plotting anyone might put into any endeavor, something or someone inevitably comes along and turns it all to naught. In this case, “Murphy’s Law” is embodied by a lawman named Murphy ... Dallas Patrolman Joe E. Murphy, who actually went on the record refuting Ed’s story long before it ever went “on the record.”
It seems as if people, when they envision Ed Hoffman standing alone on that stretch of Stemmons Freeway overlooking Dealey Plaza, for some reason imagine a quiet setting, forgetting that for all of the thousands of people who lined the parade route and the hundreds awaiting the luncheon honoring the President at the Trade Mart, there were hundreds of thousands of people in and around Dallas who were unaffected by Kennedy’s appearance in town.
Despite Ed’s saying so, he was not “alone” on the highway. Just as the city streets through which the motorcade wound itself, so too did Stemmons Freeway present a traffic control and security issue. Commission Document 81.1 (CD81) is a 418-page report forwarded to the Warren Commission by the Texas Attorney General’s office, of which 15 pages are assignment sheets for each of the 493 men assigned to the day’s events, including 173 men for traffic and security along the parade route. [CD81, 32-46]
An additional 35 pages comprise a report submitted to Chief of Police Jesse Curry (by Assistant Chief Batchelor and Deputy Chiefs Lumpkin and Stevenson) that detail several days of planning meetings held between the Dallas Police Department and the Secret Service in the days leading up to the President’s visit, including the events of November 22-24. The concern at the highest levels of the Police Department and among the Secret Service for security is very apparent, and the assignments of individual officers reflect that [ibid. 53-87].
According to this report, it was on the “recommendation” of Winston Lawson, Secret Service advance man for the President’s visit, that officers were to be stationed “on each railroad and traffic overpass that the presidential party would go under” [ibid, 56]. As previously noted, Captain P.W. Lawrence had arranged with the railroads that no trains would be on the overpasses when the parade went through [ibid, 64].
Officers were consequently assigned (on three-wheelers) to railroad overpasses on Lemmon and on Cedar Springs, as there were (on foot) atop the Triple Underpass (J.W. Foster - misidentified in Eye Witness as being atop the Texas & Pacific bridge over Stemmons - and J.C. White) and over the T&P bridge (E.V. Brown and J.A. Lomax). [ibid. 34-36]
(This report also attributes the decision of how many motorcycles would be permitted to surround the presidential limousine to SA Lawson on Thursday, November 21. DPD had planned for four on either side of the limo, while Lawson insisted that “this was too many” and that two on either side “would be sufficient” [ibid, 64].)
Between the Triple Underpass and the T&P bridge over Stemmons is one more bridge, the Stemmons overpass above the entrance to the freeway. Assigned to secure that bridge was Joe Murphy, standing beside his three-wheeler above the “Stemmons Freeway service road,” i.e., the entrance ramp. [ibid., 36] The area had been “covered by police for some two hours, since approximately 10 o’clock in the morning” [6H285] and Murphy had been on duty in and around Dealey Plaza since that time [CD205, 320].
(NOTE: The cited report is actually in reference to Murphy’s giving assistance to three men in an air-conditioning truck that had stalled under the Triple Underpass sometime “between 10:30 and 10:40” that morning, the same one reported by Julia Ann Mercer in her affidavit to the Sheriff’s Department. [Decker Exhibit 5323 at 19H483])
Finding Murphy. Murphy’s duty assignment for the parade was “Stemmons Freeway Serv. Rd. Overpass (atop overpass)” [CD81, 36], which he inaccurately but understandably describes as “over Elm” in his deposition with WC assistant counsel Joseph Ball on the morning of April 8, 1964:
Mr. BALL. You are a patrolman, are you?
Mr. MURPHY. That’s right.
Mr. BALL. Do you have a three-wheeler?
Mr. MURPHY. A three-wheeler – yes.
Mr. BALL. On November 22, 1963, did they assign you to some post?
Mr. MURPHY. Yes, I was assigned to the overpass -- the Stemmons Freeway overpass northbound at Elm Street -- over Elm. [6H256 ff]
It is inaccurate because Elm Street technically ceases to exist by that name, instead merging with Commerce Street as it emerges from under the northernmost tunnel of the Triple Underpass. It is understandable because the right-most and center lanes of the former Elm Street go straight ahead under the overpass on which Murphy was assigned to be.
To determine where Murphy was standing, we first note that Murphy drew a crude and inaccurate map [Murphy Exhibit A at 20H638] that he and several other witnesses used to locate themselves during their Warren Commission testimonies. This map helps little to locate where he was standing, but a more accurate map that accompanied Chief Curry’s report detailing the identities and duties of the men stationed around Dealey Plaza places Murphy on the Stemmons overpass directly over the northbound entrance to the highway [CE1358 at 22H606; see below] (the number “9” denoting Murphy’s location - see key at 22H605 - is very indistinct, but still visible).
To further identify Murphy’s location, we note in his testimony that he could see the motorcade as it turned from Main to Houston, but “just a portion of it” as it turned from Houston onto Elm, his view being obstructed by “a concrete ... kind of a framework” [6H258].
This clearly refers to the pergola atop the north knoll of Dealey Plaza since the only other “kind of a framework” in Murphy’s vicinity is the support for the highway signs leading onto Stemmons Freeway, which is not concrete, does not rise above the level of the highway, and would not therefore have obstructed his view.
The pergola, however, does obstruct one’s vision to the intersection from over the entrance ramp, as we can see in the overhead view above, but it does not obstruct one’s line of sight from elsewhere on the bridge. The position marked as “Murphy 1,” then, is where Murphy had positioned himself, in accordance with his directive.
Murphy (position “1”) thus was within 150-200 feet of where Ed Hoffman claims to have been standing (position “B”) on the opposite side of the highway.
Ed’s View. Murphy’s observations are significant to Ed’s story because, in part, they prove that Ed had a clear view of Main & Houston and could therefore see the motorcade – which he’d specifically stopped to see – as it entered Dealey Plaza, just as Murphy had testified that he could. They also speak to the observations that Ed did claim to make.
While Ed would not have been able to see the intersection of Elm & Houston – Murphy’s vision was partially blocked by the “concrete ... kind of a framework,” but Ed’s was completely blocked by it – both of them had clear views of Main & Houston and the motorcade’s arrival into Dealey Plaza.
The overhead view below shows both of their positions and lines of sight to each corner, Ed’s in blue, Murphy’s in red:
We can also see from this view that both men had unobstructed views of the train yards from where they each stood, remembering that, as shown in the McIntyre photo above, there were no trees on the south incline of the railroad lines to interrupt their views as there are today. Murphy had an advantage in not having the width of the highway and its traffic limiting his view.
From his vantage point directly over the freeway entrance “over Elm,” Murphy – who said that he’d kept the motorcade in sight at all times that he could actually see it – noticed two policemen atop the Triple Underpass, both of whom appeared to him to be facing easterly toward the approaching motorcade; he did not see the train purportedly blocking J.C. White’s view, nor the one detailed by Ed Hoffman. He also could see “about 8 or 10 men dressed in the overalls [who] appeared to be railroad employees.”
Murphy also stated that, after he heard the shots, he did not see “anything unusual occur in this group of railroad men.” He mentioned observing people coming from the plaza, up the grassy knoll, and into the train yards from there. While not necessarily contradictory to Ed’s claim, it is significant that Murphy could see people’s cameras – much smaller objects and certainly less threatening than a rifle – from his vantage point, but asked if he had seen anyone with a weapon, he replied that he hadn’t “that [he] could tell” [6H258-259].
Knowing where Murphy stood, we can now see from this frame (from The Men Who Killed Kennedy; see clip, op.cit.) what Ed’s view toward Murphy’s location was. It was taken from the position Ed himself pointed out and was standing at when the footage was taken; the north end of the overpass is just beyond the left margin of this image.
It is difficult to imagine that a man who considers his vision to be “sharper than hearing people’s” [Sloan, 15] would be unable to see a cop on a three-wheeler at this distance such that he’d be “surprised” to find himself “alone” along the highway! Even if it is somehow not surprising that Ed didn’t see Murphy, it is surprising that Murphy didn’t see Ed ... because Murphy was supposed to have been looking for people like Ed!
The World According to Murphy. During the course of the planning meetings for Kennedy’s visit, Secret Service advance man Lawson recommended putting men on top of bridges the motorcade would pass under, and advised that “these people should be instructed not to let anyone stand over the immediate path of the presidential party.” [CD81, 56] Murphy himself described his duties similarly:
Mr. BALL. What instructions did you have?
Mr. MURPHY. It was to keep anyone and everyone off of the overpass and to keep traffic moving until the motorcade arrived. [6H256]
Also, in the weeks following the assassination, Murphy filed a report in which he stated that his assignment was “to keep all persons from gathering on the bridge” [CE1358 at 22H602]. Clearly, then, Officer Murphy was on the lookout for people doing exactly what Ed Hoffman claims to have been doing when he hiked up to the other side of the very same overpass that Murphy was on and “was really surprised that there was nobody else there” to take advantage of the view. [EW, 15]
We now know why: it was Murphy’s job to make sure there was nobody there ... including Ed!
Allowing Ed to remain there would have only encouraged others to join him, creating a crowd “over the immediate path of the presidential party,” which was clearly unacceptable. Yet Ed claims to have been there some “40 to 50 minutes before the motorcade arrived,” meaning that Murphy either didn’t see Ed for all of that time, or chose to derelict his duty and ignore him. [EW, 6] But it doesn’t seem that he did that.
According to Murphy’s report, “no cars or persons were on the bridge until after the shooting had occurred.” [CE1358, op.cit.; emphasis added]. Furthermore, he was asked in his deposition if there were any people standing on the overpass as the motorcade approached, and he stated without equivocation, “no; there was no one standing there [on the bridge] prior to the arrival of the motorcade or after the motorcade arrived” [6H257; emphases added].
Murphy’s account contradicts Ed’s; Ed’s contradicts Murphy’s. Either Murphy was “mistaken,” or Ed was not there. Which was it?
As it turns out, it wasn’t even necessary for Murphy to have seen Ed, nor would he even have needed to cross the highway to tell Ed to move because about 100 feet south of him were two additional officers on the west side of the highway - that is, the same side that Ed was on and about 250-300 feet south of him. (Their locations are noted on the overhead above as those marked “2.”) Their primary responsibility was “to slow traffic or to stop traffic whenever the motorcade entered the Stemmons Freeway north entrance” [Murphy Exhibit A and testimony 6H257].
But they – and all other solo motorcycle officers and three-wheelers – had also been instructed to “assist with traffic control or security measures that might be present” [CD81, 64]. A man standing “over the immediate path of the presidential party” – or very close to it – for “40 to 50 minutes before the motorcade arrived” certainly constituted a “security measure.”
That Ed was not standing directly over the path of the motorcade, but rather a few feet or yards north of the end of the bridge, did not preclude his ability to throw anything at the motorcade, a definite concern of DPD after the incident involving Adlai Stevenson only a short while before.
In fact, at 9:00 that morning, Captain PW Lawrence had briefed all of the officers assigned to the parade route on their assignments. He told them to “closely observe the crowd for any unusual activity or anyone attempting to throw anything” at the Presidential party, while also advising officers of people’s legal right to carry placards, etc. [CE1358 at 22H596ff]. There is little doubt that officers would not have allowed Ed to remain in his purported position, simply because he could have thrown something at the parade.
Murphy described those two officers’ primary duties in his testimony:
Mr. BALL. And as the motorcade came west on Elm, did they stop traffic on Stemmons Freeway?
Mr. MURPHY. Yes, their [the two officers’] main job was to slow it and let the officers farther down the freeway – [the two officers] would stop it, but traffic approaches pretty fast and they were to slow traffic and let the officers [farther down the freeway] then stop it. They did – they – they stepped into and were slowing the traffic as the motorcade came under [the Triple Underpass]. [6H257]
From their position south of Murphy, they moved north and into traffic. This necessitated their approaching and passing Ed as they did so, since Ed would have been less than 1/10 of a mile up the highway from their starting positions. Once the traffic was sufficiently slowed or stopped, they could have – and would have, since they were doing all other aspects of their jobs to specifications – returned to Ed’s position and ensured that he moved, or at least kept him under close observation.
Thus, there was ample time and cause for any either of those officers to have taken notice of Ed and require him to move ... if he was there. There is certainly no indication that they did so. Even while Ed says he was alone, there were other people along the entrance ramp, and they might have joined him if he was allowed to stay.
Ed, who by all accounts had just witnessed two men with a rifle and seen the President’s head blown open “like bloody Jell-o,” [op.cit.] made no attempt to attract either of these two officers’ attention or Murphy’s, who was still parked a short distance down the highway on the opposite shoulder. As we will soon see, Murphy could have easily ridden over to Ed’s position – or even walked – just as Ed could have walked to Murphy’s.
Instead, they somehow managed to escape Ed’s attention – and Ed theirs – and he waved in the opposite direction at an officer stationed on top of the T&P railroad bridge, who’d have been unable to reach Ed easily even if he could’ve understood anything Ed was waving from 100 yards away.
The plan for the motorcade called for it to avoid all roads with public traffic. To that end, the route was cleared and cross-traffic halted in advance of its arrival, generally by the time Chief Lumpkin’s pilot car was in sight, itself three to four blocks (and sometimes more) ahead of the motorcade. At Love Field, an opening was even made in a fence to allow the motorcade to exit directly to Cedar Springs Road and to “avoid bringing the presidential party down a roadway which would be used by the public.” [CD81, 61]
The other end of the parade route, Stemmons Freeway, offered a different challenge: for all of the thousands of people at Love Field and along the parade route – and the hundreds awaiting JFK’s arrival at the Trade Mart – there remained hundreds of thousands of area residents and visitors going about their daily business without the slightest concern about the motorcade or JFK’s visit. Many hundreds of them would be traveling at 60-70 mph on the five lanes of Stemmons Freeway, including on the portion the motorcade would be taking to the Trade Mart.
(Note that Ed claims there were only two lanes of traffic in each direction and wide shoulders on Stemmons in 1963 [EW, 5], a fact that seems to have been lost on the police planning the parade route.)
Plans thus called for traffic to be stopped until the motorcade had entered the freeway, to “let the motorcade proceed without any vehicles passing it,” and held back until it had passed. The officers assigned to halt the traffic would then follow the motorcade “to allow traffic to proceed at the same speed” and not overtake it [ibid., 64]. The presidential party would have an open highway, unimpeded by traffic, to make its way to the Trade Mart luncheon.
(Chief Curry had broadcast on Channel 2 to “get those trucks out of the way” at some point prior to the 12:34 time check, but several broadcasts after 12:30 had been announced. This suggests that the motorcade had overtaken traffic as it sped to Parkland at speeds over 80 mph, rather than that traffic was allowed to remain on the highway.)
As we have seen, there were two officers standing by on three-wheelers prior to the motorcade reaching Dealey Plaza, whose job was to slow the fast-approaching traffic when the motorcade approached the Stemmons Freeway entrance. They would slow it enough that officers “farther down the highway” would be able to stop it more easily. When the motorcade came under the Triple Underpass, those officers were already moving into traffic from the left shoulder. [6H257]
Both Murphy’s report and his testimony indicate that traffic was indeed stopped by “the officers farther down the freeway” because in each, he indicated that traffic had “backed up from below me where the motorcade came on to Stemmons” [CE1358, op.cit.], and “they blocked the whole street and then it backed up, is what it did – backed up to our position” atop the overpass [ibid].
Thus, Ed would have been standing directly beside a traffic jam in the making, with cars and trucks slowing abruptly when the two motorcycle officers entered traffic to slow it down, passing Ed in the process.
The traffic was stopped completely by the time JFK’s limo entered the highway, a fact not acknowledged by Ed Hoffman’s account of events, but which would have affected his ability to see anything across the highway. It was something that he would’ve known ... if he’d been there. Just as “moving trains” hindered his being able to see where “train man” had run to [EW, 10], so would the backed-up traffic have blocked his view from even seeing the trains.
That traffic had stopped completely by the time JFK’s limo had reached the highway entrance is established by the testimony of Richard “Dick” Saunders, a Dallas Morning News ad salesman who was principally deposed by WC counsel to discuss his relationship with Jack Ruby.
However, Saunders also testified to the condition of traffic on the expressway:
Mr. HUBERT. Where were you when the President himself passed you?
Mr. SAUNDERS. I was approximately 100 yards west of the triple underpass, at the railroad overpass at Stemmons.
Mr. HUBERT. And you walked back?
Mr. SAUNDERS. No; I was in my automobile. My car was parked at that underpass and I was outside of the car at a police motorcycle barricade. [15H578]
Here we have a reliable witness (see also below) who states that he was stopped “at the railroad overpass at Stemmons” by “a police motorcycle barricade” at the time “the President himself” went by his position there. He had been stopped long enough to get out of his car to see Kennedy’s limo speed by.
The “police motorcycle barricade” consisted of “five (5) motorcycles [that were to] cut off the five lanes of Expressway traffic, and hold it until the motorcade got on the Expressway.” [CD81, 64] The motorcycle officers were J.H. Garrick and G.C. McBride of the advance unit (ahead of the parade by 3-4 blocks), and L.E. Gray, B.D. Brewer and H.R. Freeman from the lead motorcycle unit traveling riding ahead of Chief Curry’s lead car [ibid., 33 and 38]. In addition, Sgt. S.Q. Bellah, commanding the advance unit, either remained there with the other two officers, or substituted himself for one of them, for he is recorded as being present there on DPD Channel 2 afterward (see below); Sgt. Steve Ellis commanding the lead unit also remained at the top of the entrance ramp [Sneed, 156], arriving there as the Presidential limo entered Stemmons Freeway (see McIntyre 1 photo above).
In addition, three-wheeler officers who had initially been stationed along Lemmon Avenue and other portions of the beginning of the parade, had been assigned to leapfrog the motorcade, and to work the west side of northbound Stemmons “between entrance and Industrial.” These officers and their initial assignments were:
· C.H. Whitman, J.B. Jones, J.R. Jennings, and H.M. Huggins (Cedar Springs & Mockingbird);
· P.W. Britton (Mockingbird & Lemmon);
· V. Glasgow (Lemmon & Inwood);
· W.C. Brasher (Lemmon & Cotton Belt Railroad overpass); and
· Curtis Moore and J.W. Murdock (Lemmon & Loma Alto).
Additional motorcycle officers were assigned to stop traffic from entering Stemmons at Continental and other entrances northbound to Industrial, where the motorcade was to exit.
Thus, as the motorcade entered Dealey Plaza, with Main & Houston being in plain sight of the officers on the bridge, the two three-wheelers moved ahead from the left shoulder into traffic, forcing it to slow down. Two or three of the “advance unit” motorcycle officers who were “three or four blocks” ahead of the parade, peeled off from the lead contingent and awaited the first two officers’ moving into traffic; they then followed suit and stopped the traffic, assisted by the first two officers.
The remaining officers were situated near the top of the entrance ramp to “work” the left (west) side of the highway, that is, to provide security for the motorcade from southbound traffic that was not stopped when it came onto Stemmons.
(Officer Murphy recalled some 25 or more years later that “several motor jocks and other officers were there to stop traffic completely when the motorcade was to pass ... many of the officers were north of the overpass ... where the Elm Street entrance entered the freeway. Others were just riding the area...” [Sneed, 195].)
At the time of the shooting, then, which was only 200 yards or so away, there were a large number of motorcycle officers congregated near the entrance ramp (“service road”) and railroad overpass, to wit:
· Officer Murphy, assigned to overpass security, on the east shoulder of the highway “above Elm Street”;
· Two (2) other three-wheelers on the west side of the highway to slow traffic;
· Two (2) or three (3) motorcycle officers who had separated from the “advance unit” specifically to stop traffic;
· From seven (7) to nine (9) other motorcycle officers assigned to “work” the “west side of northbound Stemmons ... from the entrance to Industrial” (the two assigned to “slow traffic” may have been a part of the nine, since there were no officers assigned by name to perform this particular task); and
· Two (2) more from the lead motorcycle unit in front of the lead car, one in advance of the motorcade’s progress down Elm Street, and the other as the limousine entered the highway.
That is a total of from 14 to 17 motorcycles in place at ground level at or near the top of the entrance ramp at the railroad overpass. Look once again at the image of Ed pointing to the railroad overpass and imagine all – or even just several – of these officers in the photo: could Ed not have seen them? More to the point, could they not have seen Ed, especially as he ran along the shoulder, waving his arms to attract attention?
Waiting Game. By the time the motorcade had reached the highway proper, police were already aware that something was seriously wrong with the motorcade. Each of the officers stationed on the Triple Underpass and west (with the exception of White) testified that they had heard and recognized shots being fired. They all were equipped with radios and were monitoring Channel 2 when Chief Curry broadcast the call to “get to Parkland” immediately after the shooting; they could all see the President’s limo in disarray, Clint Hill climbing over the back seat, and knew that both Chief Curry and Sheriff Decker were concerned about finding out what had happened “on top of that triple underpass” less than 100 yards from where they were parked. [CE1974 page 162-163 at 23H912-13]
The “police motorcycle barricade” was consequently in place for several minutes after the motorcade had gotten onto the highway, as evidenced by Sgt. Bellah’s transmission on Channel 2 immediately after the 12:34 time check, asking if he should release the traffic at that time [ibid., 164].
Dick Saunders also testified about having heard a radio transmission that a particular window of the TSBD was thought to have been the origin of the shots while he was still at the barricade:
Mr. HUBERT. Did you in fact witness the shooting?
Mr. SAUNDERS. No; we could not see the actual site. We could see the building the Texas School Book Depository Building, but you could not see the area of the assassination from the area where I was positioned.
Mr. HUBERT. When you left the position from which you walked, were you then aware that there had been some shots fired?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Yes. There was one of our reporters, Mr. Larry Grove, was at that point with me and I asked Larry what had happened and he said both Connally and Kennedy had been shot. At that moment a directive came over the police radio on one of the motorcycles that the shooting came from – and they directed the personnel – whoever they were talking to over the radio to the given window, which has now been purported that from which the shots of the assassin came.
Mr. HUBERT. But you heard about it over the police radio of a motorcycle standing nearby where you were?
Mr. SAUNDERS. Right.
Mr. HUBERT. Was there a police announcement that the shots had come from a particular window in the Texas Depository Building?
Mr. SAUNDERS. That’s correct.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you remember if they described the window on the radio?
Mr. SAUNDERS. They said – I believe – it was the next to the top floor, an open window at the far right-hand side, and then there was evidently some communication there which I missed, and they clarified, “No; as you are standing facing the building it would be on the sixth floor.” [6H257]
Corroborating the accuracy of Saunders’ recollection were transmissions similar to what he described that occurred on Channel 2 - the frequency that officers assigned to the parade were monitoring - shortly after 12:36 and 12:37, to wit:
260 (Sgt D.V. Harkness) - I have a witness that says that it came from the 5th floor of the Texas Book Depository Store.[sic] ...
22 (Ptm L.L. Hill) - Get some men here to cover this school depository building. It’s believed the shots came from, as you see it on Elm Street, looking toward the building, it would be upper right hand corner, second window from the end.” [CE1974/166 at 23H914]
Thus, Saunders’ accurate memory shows that the traffic on Stemmons Freeway was still at a halt as late as seven minutes after the shooting. He was clearly close enough to the motorcycles to be able to hear at least most of their transmissions, “at” the railroad overpass. So we can now see when, where and how long the traffic had been stopped.
Reading the Channel 2 transcript further, we find that Sergeant Bellah radioed in again later asking “Can we release this traffic here? We can go down there or stay here and hold it.” The dispatcher responded by telling Bellah to “release the traffic and report Code 3 to Elm and Houston.” He then gave the 12:43 time check [ibid., 171].
Thus, traffic was stopped for thirteen minutes after the motorcade had gotten onto Stemmons before it was released. It was stopped at the T&P railroad bridge, and was backed up initially onto the Stemmons overpass above Elm and Commerce, and undoubtedly farther by the time it was finally released.
During this time, because of their proximity to the Triple Underpass, the officers were undoubtedly on the lookout for anything that might have seemed suspicious in any way, or even just out of the ordinary: after all, the President had just been “hit” and was on his way to the hospital; the shooter or shooters might still be in the area. The police were not taking chances.
There were no less than eight police motorcycles remaining on the ground in the immediate vicinity – Murphy on the entrance overpass, the two who had stopped traffic and five more who were holding traffic at the railroad bridge – and possibly more. They were in addition to two officers, E.V. Brown and J.A. Lomax – only one of whom Ed claims to have seen – on top of the railroad bridge.
(Even though there is no record of the exact movements of officers on Stemmons after the shooting, we must allow for some of the three-wheelers to have accompanied the motorcade over the remainder of its route ... although it is by no means certain that any of them, much less all of them, did so.)
While it may be somehow possible that Ed saw and approached none of them, it is implausible that none of them saw him, made no moves to detain him at any time, and simply let him speed away in his car.
One would have to – and should – read the documents cited in CD81.1 to fully appreciate the planning that went into the Presidential visit. Not only is each officer named with his assignment at Love Field, along the parade route, at the Trade Mart, and on the route back to Love Field, but all of the planning meetings between police and Secret Service official are also detailed and preparations noted. Details of the report include that there were 493 men assigned to the presidential visit, including 433 Dallas police officers and reserves, 14 county sheriff’s deputies and 46 state police officers, of which there were:
This investigation came about after this author’s having stated his “gut feel” that the Ed Hoffman story was not all that it was cooked up to be. Challenged to “read Ed’s book” and being provided with a copy of it, I also delved into the earlier accounts related by others (cited in the text) and began to notice more than a few discrepancies. This essay is the result of those initial misgivings; my initial “gut feel” having been borne out.
“Gut feel” continues to have relevence even as the story concludes, for it’s my “gut feel” that Ed Hoffman is not maliciously clinging onto this story - nor did he conjure it up from malice - but rather that he had “no choice” but to perpetuate it, even expound upon it. Let me explain.
My gut feel is that the underpinnings of Ed’s story is true, that he chipped a tooth and took the afternoon off to have it examined and repaired. I believe - with absolutely no basis in or support by fact - that Ed may have found himself in the general downtown area when President Kennedy was murdered, and told as much to his family and friends, embellished by his having been closer to the scene than he actually was.
Ed’s little white lie was probably the topic of dinner discussions and family gatherings - “Eddie was there when it happened, you know” - possibly downplayed by his desire to “not talk about it” due, perhaps, to the pain of the memory. As the years went by, it probably got less and less attention.
It may even have been all but forgotten when an acquaintence - a young relative of Ed’s, if memory serves, possibly a niece - attended a lecture about the assassination at the University of Texas at Arlington. Recalling Ed’s claims of having witnessed it, she announced to the class that her uncle had seen it all. Naturally, the lecturer extended an invitation to Ed to recount his experiences to the class, which he later did.
One can imagine Ed thinking that he was merely entertaining a bunch of youngsters with his supposed exploits, of no real significance if only because, in their young minds, the Kennedy assassination was “ancient history,” Ed’s story simply an interesting sidebar, soon to be forgotten as they went about their other studies.
The lecturer, however, a former journalist with a widespread reputation in “JFK circles,” apparently took Ed’s story to heart and believed that he’d discovered a new witness not only to the assassination, but to actual conspirators firing from behind the stockade fence atop the grassy knoll. It was a discovery that couldn’t be ignored.
Such a scenario must’ve presented poor Ed with a dilemma: how could he not permit interviews, possibly at the urging of his niece (or whoever it was that had remembered Ed’s story), without exposing the fabrication he’d been telling his family and friends for so long? Maybe he tried to turn them away at first, but gradually succumbed to the pressure of those self-same family and friends who felt that Ed had to “get his story out” after all this time.
I would like not to believe that Ed saw his chance for fifteen minutes of fame and leapt at it for all he was worth, studying up on details with which to embellish the lie and “prove” his case. Indeed, it’s possible and perhaps more likely that the details were provided to him by the lecturer’s and others’ questions as they sought to prove his case for him as they moved their own conspiracy agenda forward.
Here, I should state for the record that I do not believe that Lee Oswald shot Jack Kennedy alone and unaided, and that there was a conspiracy that led to both men’s murders. While the nature and extent of such a conspiracy may or may not ever be proven, I’m not in favor of conjuring up scenarios with as many angles and perpetrators as to put Roshomon to shame and lead investigators off into a dozen different directions, only one of which - if any of them - might be correct. “Smoke” should be outed for what it is so that time is spent only on legitimate “fires.”
It is not my intention to necessarily berate an old and - in my studied opinion - a kindly older gentleman who I do not believe intends to harm anyone by his impersonations. It’s my opinion - wholly without basis other than a forgiving nature and a desire to believe the best of people - that Ed Hoffman got “wrapped up in” this whole story, not necessarily of his own making.
I tend to think that, at worst, he’s just “along for the ride,” enjoying it for what little it’s worth, and basking in the sunshine of all that attention, more perhaps than he’d ever gotten in his life. If it’s merely a “ride” as my research shows, then I think Ed simply has no way to stop it without causing harm to himself and all those who’ve trusted in and promoted his version of events.
Ed openly admitted that there is no way to prove that he’d been where he said he was or seen what he’d claimed to have seen. Unfortunately, it seems as if there is a way to disprove his claims, and I believe that’s been effectively done in Freeway Man. In a way, though, I’m sad that I did, not because of discrediting a fantastic story, but for the embarassment it could cause someone who could only otherwise be called “a nice guy.”
· 56 men assigned to security at Love Field,
· 173 men for traffic and security along the parade route including
· 109 police supervisors and patrolmen (NOTE: officers on three-wheel motorcycles were considered “patrolmen” and not “motorcycle officers;” see Murphy’s testimony (op. cit.). A total of 21 three-wheelers were assigned to the parade route);
· 15 detectives,
· 18 motorcycle officers and
· 26 reservists;
· 190 men for security inside the Trade Mart, and
· 74 men for security and traffic outside the building
Several visits were made to the Trade Mart, floor plans were obtained and scrutinized, security positioned on rooftops nearby, entry and exit points detailed, locations for press photographers determined, and officers positioned throughout the dining hall, at the entrances and even in the kitchen. None but tenants and customers would be permitted into the building. Several trips were made along the parade route, all bridges and controlled intersections noted, and the number of men to be assigned to each was specified.
These notes were given to supervisors to assign individual men to these duties. Officers began arriving for duty as early as 7:30 on the morning of November 22, were briefed and given their specific assignments. The 173 men assigned to the parade assembled in the detail room at 9:00 and then went immediately to their assignments. The officers assigned in an around Dealey Plaza were all on the job by 10:00 a.m.
In all, nearly 500 men had set out on their assignments along the parade route and at the Trade Mart as professionals, with a job to do and a plan of exactly how to do it. Their assignments were completed to perfection, with each man in his assigned location on time, every time, right up to and including the officers assigned to traffic and security on Stemmons Freeway. Only the shots in Dealey Plaza kept it from being as perfect a police operation as could be hoped for.
The Other Perspective. Since this is the first time this information has been published as part of any study related to JFK’s assassination, it is not something anyone would have known if they weren’t there, but which they could not help having known if they were. If Ed Hoffman had been where he’d said he was when he said he was, these are all things that would have factored into his story, if indeed they wouldn’t have made a large portion of his story moot if not impossible.
It is no so significant that Ed might have done something differently if he’d seen the cops; what is significant is that the police would certainly have reacted to Ed if they’d seen him where he says he was and doing the things he says he did.
Knowing now as we do that there were so many police in the same location as Ed claims to have been – one of them specifically on the lookout for spectators doing exactly what Ed says he was doing – invalidates Ed’s story beyond redemption. Simply stated, if Ed had done any of what he claims to have done, he is a lucky man to have not been the fourth man shot dead that weekend.
Let us view this from the police perspective: dozens of men were paraded through the detail room and given specific assignments beginning early in the morning. The level of detail far exceeded those for any other parade or speaking engagement held in the city in years, including the visit of a US Ambassador just weeks before. It was particularly impressed upon the men assigned to the parade to ensure that there we no similar incidents permitted to occur as there had during Stevenson’s visit. There had not been a presidential parade in the city since 1936.
Even if we inconceivably allow that Officer Murphy did not see Ed standing over the bridge – he twice stated that there was nobody there; he did not merely say that he “hadn’t seen” anyone – and did nothing to remove him from his position above the parade route (likewise the two officers just up the highway), we must still account for the inability of another dozen officers to have seen Ed, and their inactivity over his supposed actions following the news of the shooting.
At 12:30, Chief Curry announced on Channel 2 – the frequency all of the officers on the highway were monitoring – that he was “approaching Triple Underpass” about 100 yards from their positions. The dispatcher announced the time - “12:30 p.m. KKB 364” – following which Curry immediately ordered, “Go to the hospital – Parkland Hospital. Have them stand by,” clearly indicating some sort of emergency.
Curry then ordered, “Get a man on top of that triple underpass and see what happened up there.” Even though it was before Curry announced that “it looks like the President has been hit, have Parkland stand by,” the officers on the highway undoubtedly realized something was seriously amiss, and that its origin was only a short distance from them. Some of them, including Officers Murphy and Brown (who was on the T&P bridge), even heard shots.
The next thing they saw was the President’s limousine speeding onto the highway, a man (SA Clint Hill) inexplicably standing in the back of Kennedy’s car, followed by another car with men hanging on for dear life on the running boards (the limo accelerated to an estimated 80 mph), and another inside holding a rifle at the ready; the lead car was also inexplicably behind the President’s.
Then, supposedly, a man comes running along the highway toward them, waving his arms wildly. He does not appear to see the phalanx of motorcycles across the highway and along the shoulder. He ignores officers’ shouted orders to stop (the cops wouldn’t have realized Ed couldn’t hear them), and runs to his car. He jumps in and roars off behind the motorcade, exiting to city streets a short distance up the highway, disappearing from sight.
So everyone relaxes and goes back to the traffic at hand?
A dozen motorcycle cops sigh and turn their attention back to the halted traffic. A few lazily follow the rest of the motorcade as it meanders up the highway. Not a single officer attempts to intercept the running man as he runs after the stricken President’s limousine, none seek to stop him when reaches their positions. None sought to prevent him from entering his car, none thought to keep from chasing after the President, and none worried about where he was going or why, or even bothered to follow him.
(We might speculate that they were all “covering their butts” by not mentioning Ed in their reports or testimony because they’d all, individually and collectively, decided not to “bother” a benign-looking man who clearly only wanted to see the motorcade, even despite his strange – if not to say suspicious – actions after the President had been shot and had sped by their positions.)
These are the things that one must accept as fact if one is to lend credence to Ed Hoffman’s story. It is not so much that Ed omits the fact of a number of police officers on the freeway in his “detailed description” of the scene, but that by so doing, he eliminates the officers’ reactions as trained professionals on a high-security assignment to his appearance on the highway and to the actions he purports to have taken.
In fact, Ed’s “detailed description” fails to mention any more than one officer!
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting of the President of the United States just 200 yards away, with a dozen officers holding back five lanes of traffic for thirteen minutes, we would have to believe that Ed Hoffman ran through their cordon and sped away in his car without a glance from any of them and without any attempt to stop or question him.
Would it really even have been surprising if not actually justified, given these factors, if one of the officers had opened fire on Ed as he “fled the scene?”
We must believe that Ed managed to be where he shouldn’t have been and wouldn’t have been allowed to be for “40 to 50 minutes” without being seen or approached; that one officer assigned to a position only 100 yards away on the opposite shoulder of the same overpass either didn’t see him or ignored him, and that two others only about twice that distance away on the same side of the highway who rode by him in doing their jobs likewise ignored him; and that none of the three approached Ed or told him to move ... or if they did, Ed forgot to mention them, and the officers forgot about Ed.
We would have to believe that Ed chose to try to gain the attention of a lone officer on top of a railroad bridge another couple of hundred yards away – the only one information had been published about – while neither he nor his partner (whom Ed didn’t see) noticed Ed gesticulating wildly to them from the highway below. Officer Earle Brown, one of the two officers atop the T&P railroad bridge, testified about seeing the Secret Service agent with an automatic rifle in one of the cars: if he could see something that small, how could he have missed a man of Ed’s size running where he should never have been or allowed to be?
We would have to believe that Ed ran by as many as a dozen cops on motorcycles just as or after the mortally wounded President was passing by and saw none of them, didn’t try to get their attention, or tell them about the men with the rifle when they not only had radios to alert other police in the area, but were also highly mobile and maneuverable on their motorcycles to possibly even give chase. We’d also have to believe that none of them saw him, yelled to him (which Ed wouldn’t have been able to hear ... but the cops didn’t know that) or attempted to intercept him when Ed “ignored” them.
We would have to believe that not a single officer would have viewed Ed’s running down the highway as any kind of a threat to the motorcade, and that none of them considered that someone racing away in an automobile might be trying to escape the scene immediately following the announcement of some sort of emergency involving the President, or chase after the motorcade in his car (and to what possible nefarious end?).
We would likewise have to believe that each and every one of them considered their personal participation in the “police motorcycle barricade” was essential to keeping the traffic stopped, and that a man fleeing the scene of a Presidential assassination - or just chasing the President in his car - was of no immediate concern.
Or we’d have to accept that none of the police were actually where they were assigned to be, and that accurate witness testimony and radio transmissions to the contrary were contrived solely to discredit Ed’s account, still thirteen years in the offing. Now that’s a conspiracy!
Otherwise, we’re left with the inescapable conclusion that the Ed Hoffman tale that has been written about, talked about, demonstrated live in Dealey Plaza and on television around the world, and defended vigorously if not aggressively by otherwise thoughtful and discriminating people ... is nothing more than a tale, a figment of the imagination of a humble and otherwise unassuming man who, for whatever reason, got caught up in a story possibly not of his own making, but which nevertheless created and sustained that “fifteen minutes of fame” all men are said to be entitled to.
That clock has just run out.
 Officer Brasher reported, in a 2007 interview with this author, that he actually went to the Industrial Boulevard exit at the Trade Mart, and was not located at the Stemmons entrance. He was unable to provide additional details of the events taking place near Dealey Plaza.