The cop cuffed to Oswald was recognized yesterday for his service in the Dallas Police Department. Jim Leavelle — the detective who was handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald when he was murdered in front of photographers by Jack Ruby during a bungled Dallas police station move — was saluted for (among other things, I hope) being in an iconic photograph of Oswald’s slaying.
But the photograph was only legendary because the Dallas Police Department had the world’s worst epic fail. No one would remember or care today who was cuffed to Oswald in a Dallas police station if they’d actually managed to bring the guy to trial alive.
Lee Harvey Oswald, as all the world must know, was quickly arrested for the 1963 assassination of popular President John F. Kennedy, who was gunned down in Dallas while riding in an open limousine.
Before he could say much of anything except that he was a patsy, Oswald was in turn gunned down in a Dallas police station basement while cuffed to a Dallas police officer.
Needless to say, a thousand conspiracies bloomed, and millions of angry Americans still think we don’t know the whole story even today.
According to The Dallas News, who reported the story seemingly without irony, 92-year-old James “Jim” Leavelle was presented Tuesday with the Police Commendation Award. The department’s Detective of the Year award will also now be named after Leavelle.
Now I’ve got no objection to honoring a law enforcement officer who worked for decades and committed only one public blunder in a lifetime of work.
But just ignore the one blunder. Don’t try to pretend that it was an act of heroism or whatever Texas-sized cow pies they were selling in Dallas yesterday.
Instead of keeping silent on the topic, in brief comments after he got his service award, Leavelle reportedly claimed that he tried to shield Oswald from Ruby.
There’s a public domain photo of Ruby shooting Oswald from the Dallas Morning News posted right here. Ruby looks like he’s shooting a fish in a barrel to me.
It’s bad enough that Dallas PD bungling allowed a popular president to be murdered and then his alleged assassin to be murdered too, in their own custody.
As a law enforcement officer in Texas, Jim Leavelle may be a hero for a great many reasons. But for those of us who don’t live in Dallas, his award might go down more easily if you didn’t mention the day he was the cop cuffed to Oswald.
[Oswald cuffed to Leavelle being killed by Jack Ruby photo by Ira Jefferson Beers Jr. via Wikimedia Commons]
[Texas School Book Depository Museum photo by Jim Bowen via Wikimedia Commons]