TESTIMONY OF EDGAR LEON SMITH, JR.
The testimony of Edgar Leon Smith. Jr. was taken at 10:06 a.m., on July 24, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Wesley J. Liebeler, assistant counsel of the President's Commission.
Mr. LIEBELER. Will you raise your right hand and please take the oath?
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. SMITH. I do.
Mr. LIEBELER. My name is Wesley J. Liebeler. I am an attorney with the staff of the President's Committee investigating the assassination of President Ken-
nedy. I have been authorized to take your testimony by the Commission, pursuant to authority granted to it by Executive Order No. 11130, dated November 29, 1963, and the joint resolution of Congress No. 137.
By the rules of the Commission covering the taking of testimony, you are entitled to have an attorney present and you are entitled to 3 days' notice of the hearing. I know that you haven't had 3 days' notice of the hearing because of schedule difficulties that we had yesterday and the day before, but since you are here by yourself, I presume you are prepared to go ahead and give your testimony without an attorney being present; is that right?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. Would you state your full name for the record, please?
Mr. SMITH. Edgar Leon Smith, Jr.
Mr. LIEBELER. Where and when were you born?
Mr. SMITH. Myrtle Springs, Tex., July 9,1933.
Mr. LIEBELER. Where do you live?
Mr. SMITH. 1800 Scripture, Apartment 8, in Denton, Tex.
Mr. LIEBELER. You are a Dallas policeman?
Mr. SMITH. A Dallas policeman.
Mr. LIEBELER. I understand that you were in the vicinity of the Texas School Book Depository Building on November 22,1963; is that correct?
Mr. SMITH. I was.
Mr. LIEBELER. Would you tell us just what led up to that; how you came to be assigned to that particular area and what instructions you were given about what you were supposed to do?
Mr. SMITH. Okay - the dates and times will be just approximately, because I don't recall exactly, but, approximately 9 a.m., November 22, 1963, I attended a detail In the basement of the city hall for all men who were designated to work traffic for the President's visit to Dallas.
At that detail I was given instructions by Captain Lawrence, P. W. Lawrence, as to my duties and some things to watch out for. Some of these things I was to watch out for was to watch the crowd for any unusual movements and also to keep a check on the buildings in the vicinity of where I was located. He instructed us specifically about placards. I understand that people were allowed to carry placards, but if I should notice anyone attempting to throw them or any thing like that, I should take them into custody. I was assigned to the corner of Houston and Elm Street. I got to my traffic corner about --
Mr. LIEBELER. Before you get to that - let me ask you a few questions: What did you say your name was, Edgar L.?
Mr. SMITH. E. L. - Edgar L.
Mr. LIEBELER. There were two Smiths on that corner?
Mr. SMITH. Yes; I understand that.
Mr. LIEBELER. When you received your instructions that morning, was there any specific mention made of watching the windows of the buildings in the area?
Mr. SMITH. Not that I recall - just general - watch out, you know, for the crowd.
Mr. LIEBELER. Now, you went down to the corner of Elm and Houston and took up your duty station there at about what time?
Mr. SMITH. I think it was about approximately 10 o'clock and - I believe that's about right.
Mr. LIEBELER. And there were two other officers there, isn't that right?
Mr. SMITH. Yes; there were.
Mr. LIEBELER. Can you tell us what their names were?
Mr. SMITH. One of them was Welcome Barnett and the other boy was named Smith too, but I don't recall his initials.
Mr. LIEBELER. Where did you station yourself and what did you do from the time you arrived until the time the motorcade began to approach?
Mr. SMITH. I said approximately - oh, 30 to 40 feet south of the south curb of Elm Street at the east curb of Houston. I stood around there and talked with some of the people in this general vicinity and watched the crowd.
Mr. LIEBELER. You stood across the street on Houston Street from the Texas School Book Depository Building?
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. Cater-cornered - and I show you Commission Exhibit No. 354, and it has a letter "A" marked there, and that will be approximately where you were standing; is that right?
Mr. SMITH. That's about where I was.
Mr. LIEBELER. What did you do from the time you stationed yourself in that position?
Mr. SMITH. Well, I stood there and talked some to the crowd after they finally formed. They didn't start forming until around 11 o'clock, and looked over here at the Texas School Book Depository Building and just stood there mainly - there wasn't much to do.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did you look up at the buildings that were around this intersection here at Elm Street at all?
Mr. SMITH. Yes; I did.
Mr. LIEBELER. As you were standing there at position "A" in Exhibit No. 354, you were in a position to observe the south windows of the Texas School Book Depository Building, were you not?
Mr. SMITH. That's right
Mr. LIEBELER. Did you notice any windows open up there?
Mr. SMITH. I don't recall at this time whether there was any open. I'm sure there were, but I just don't remember it specifically - any specifically being open. There's quite a few people looking out the windows and what not of the various buildings.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did you see any suspicious activities of any kind in any of those windows?
Mr. SMITH. No, sir; I didn't.
Mr. LIEBELER. What happened when the motorcade came down Main Street and turned right on Houston Street; what did you do then?
Mr. SMITH. I Just stood parade rest there, you know, trying to keep the people back. I was facing the motorcade - they had come out in the street here a little bit and I just stood there.
Mr. LIEBELER. So you were facing west?
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. You did not go out into the intersection at any point here and help hold traffic back at that intersection, did you?
Mr. SMITH. No; I did. not.
Mr. LIEBELER. So, you stood there as the motorcade went by, facing west down toward the triple underpass and the motorcade turned left and started to go down Elm Street, is that right?
Mr. SMITH. That's right.
Mr. LIEBELER. From where you are standing, could you observe the railroad tracks that went over the triple underpass down there at the bottom of Exhibit No. 354?
Mr. SMITH. I'm sure I could see them from that location, but I don't remember, you know, noticing them. I had noticed them earlier in the day, probably from that location, and I had saw some officers up there, and other than that, I don't remember seeing anything else. I do specifically remember seeing some officers on the overpass here.
Mr. LIEBELER. As the motorcade turned and went down Elm Street, what happened?
Mr. SMITH. I heard three shots, I guess they were shots. I thought that the first two were just firecrackers and kept my position and after the third one, I ran down the street here.
Mr. LIEBELER. You ran down Elm Street?
Mr. SMITH. Well, ran down Houston Street and then to Elm, and actually, I guess it was a little bit farther over than this, because after they turned the corner I couldn't see any of the cars, there were so many people standing there around the corner.
Mr. LIEBELER. So, you were a little bit farther south down Elm Street than Position "A"?
Mr. SMITH. Yes; possibly a little bit farther south than that - yes; I was under these windows here.
Mr. LIEBELER. That's the county building there you are talking about?
Mr. SMITH. Yes; a little bit farther down. Anyhow, I couldn't see down there without running over here, and I run down here at the time to see the Presidential car go under the triple underpass at a high rate of speed, and I pulled my pistol out and there was people laying down there and run down the street and that was about all. I thought when it came to my mind that there were shots, and I was pretty sure there were when I saw his car because they were leaving in such a hurry, I thought they were coming from this area here, and I ran over there and checked back of it and, of course, there wasn't anything there.
Mr. LIEBELER. You thought the shot came from this little concrete structure up behind No. 7?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. On Commission Exhibit No. 354?
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. Toward the railroad tracks there?
Mr. SMITH. That's true.
Mr. LIEBELER. And to the north of No.7?
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. So, you ran down in there and what did you do when you got down there?
Mr. SMITH. I ran down here.
Mr. LIEBELER. Down on Elm Street?
Mr. SMITH. And I ran up to here and I couldn't get over so I went back around then.
Mr. LIEBELER. You went farther down Elm Street and right behind this concrete structure here; is that correct?
Mr. SMITH. And on back into there.
Mr. LIEBELER. And into the parking area behind the concrete structure there at No.7?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, and there's where I stayed for an hour or so and after I got around there, they started checking everybody that was going in and out of the - well, I don't know who they was checking because there was so much milling around, because there was a bunch of county officers back there plus the policemen.
Mr. LIEBELER. That area was fairly searched by the officers that came down there?
Mr. SMITH. It was.
Mr. LIEBELER. And you didn't find anything down there that seemed to have anything to do with the shot that you heard?
Mr. SMITH. No.
Mr. LIEBELER. Are you sure you heard three shots?
Mr. SMITH. Yes, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. Did you have any idea where they came from?
Mr. SMITH. No, sir - like I said - the first two were just - I mulled it over in my mind and I thought it was firecrackers and I thought to myself that was awful - not very nice - throwing them out there, and then it dawned on me that it wasn't and that these were shots, especially after I ran to the corner, and this was after the third shot was fired that I got to the corner, and all I saw was the Presidential car going under the underpass, but there were definitely three of those shots.
Mr. LIEBELER. What did you do after you left the general area marked "C" here, on exhibit No. 354?
Mr. SMITH. Well, of course, you see we checked all these cars - this extends for some distance over to the north and I went all the way down the railroad tracks a long ways and turned around and came back and took a position right down here where No. 1 is now - this was about an hour or an hour and a half after the thing happened, and I don't guess it was that long, because they had just got the word - I had already gotten back around here when Officer Tippit was shot and we got the word over the police radio, and they took off and I stayed in this area for quite some time around the front, working traffic, and I don't remember when I really left.
Mr. LIEBELER. So, after you searched behind the north and west of the School Book Depository Building, you came back up to position No.1?
Mr. SMITH. Yes.
Mr. LIEBELER. You then remained in the general area of the School Book Depository Building for some period, and then you were relieved from duty?
Mr. SMITH. Well, I went back to work again on my regular duty. I had been working evenings, and I had to report to work - it was 6 o'clock, I think, and after that I went directly to work.
Mr. LIEBELER. You didn't see anybody or anything that you could associate with the shots or with the assassination itself other than you have already described?
Mr. SMITH. No, sir; I have thought about it many times. I didn't see any smoke or anything.
Mr. LIEBELER. And at no time did you see any activity down on the railroad tracks that you associated with the assassination?
Mr. SMITH. No, sir.
Mr. LIEBELER. Is what you heard that day consistent with the proposition that the shots came from the School Book Depository Building?
Mr. SMITH. They could have come from there and they could not - I just don't know. Where I was standing it just sounded like it was all round there. When I first thought - I don't know whether it actually came from here or not - you know, the thoughts of sounds coming - I don't know whether they were coming from here or not - it just looked like this was a good place for them to come from and I guess that's the reason I ran down there.
Mr. LIEBELER. Down around No. 7 pointed out on this Exhibit No. 354?
Mr. SMITH. Yes; I have no earthly idea where they actually came from.
Mr. LIEBELER. All right, thank you very much. I appreciate your coming in.
Mr. SMITH. That's okay.