Did JFK's Car Stop on Elm Street?

59 Witnesses versus the Zapruder Film

Contradictions in the Evidence

It is sometimes claimed that dozens of witnesses to the JFK assassination stated that President Kennedy’s car stopped on Elm Street during the shooting. These witnesses contradict the relevant parts of the photographic record of the assassination, which is unanimous that the car slowed down but did not stop.

The clearest representation of the incident is in the Zapruder film, taken at close range and with the car moving from left to right. Some people argue that because the film disagrees with the human eye–witnesses, we can conclude that the Zapruder film has been manipulated. Two other home movies, by Orville Nix and Marie Muchmore, were taken from further away and with the car moving away from the cameras. Although these films show the movement of the car less clearly, it is obvious that they agree with the Zapruder film. If the car really did stop, these films too must have been altered.

59 Eye–Witnesses

Those who claim that the car stopped usually cite an article by Vincent Palamara, ‘Fifty–nine Witnesses: Delay on Elm Street’, Dealey Plaza Echo, vol.3 no.2 (July 1992), pp.1–7. The article was reprinted in James Fetzer, ed., Murder in Dealey Plaza, Catfeet Press, 2000, pp.119–128. Fetzer, though not Palamara himself, uses the 59 witnesses as evidence that the Zapruder film was manipulated. The text of Palamara’s article, modified slightly but not significantly, is available online at:

Palamara is widely recognised as an authority on the Secret Service aspects of the assassination, and has written several books on the subject. His article, which is not primarily concerned with the question of whether or not President Kennedy’s car actually stopped, provides strong evidence that William Greer, the Secret Service agent who drove the car, was, at best, neglectful of his duties by slowing down when the shooting began.

Problems with Eye–Witnesses

There are two main problems with using eye–witness testimony in this instance:

  • Generally, it is a well–known fact that eye–witnesses are not always reliable, particularly when describing a brief, unexpected and traumatic event such as the shooting of President Kennedy.
  • Specifically, some witnesses in Dealey Plaza had a better view than others of the movement of the presidential limousine; indeed, some of the witnesses would have had no more than a very obscured view of the car itself and must have been describing the movements of other cars in the motorcade that were closer to them.

Locations of Witnesses

The following discussion tries to give appropriate weight to the witnesses by grouping them according to their view of the incident. The number after each witness’s name is that assigned by Palamara in his article. Links are provided to the witness statements, which include sources for each statement, so far as they can be ascertained.

A comprehensive list of witnesses, their locations and statements can be found at https://www.history-matters.com/analysis/witness/index.htm.

For reference, this is the order of the vehicles at the front of the motorcade:

  1. Pilot car: Dallas police;
  2. Lead car: Dallas police;
  3. President Kennedy’s car;
  4. First Secret Service car;
  5. Vice–President Johnson’s car;
  6. Second Secret Service car;
  7. Local dignitaries’ car;
  8. National press journalists’ car;
  9. Camera car no.1: national film cameras;
  10. Camera car no.2: national press photographers;
  11. Camera car no.3: local press photographers.

At the time of the fatal shot, cars 1 to 7 were on Elm Street, and cars 8 to 11 were on Houston Street. In addition, there were four police motorcyclists closely following the presidential car, and several other police motorcyclists further back in the motorcade.

The Closest Witnesses

In the Presidential Limousine

None of those in the presidential limousine mentioned anything about the car stopping: Nellie Connally (28); John Connally (29); Jacqueline Kennedy (59). The car’s driver, William Greer, and Greer’s fellow Secret Service agent in the front passenger seat, Roy Kellerman, are not quoted in Palamara’s article.

In the Secret Service Car

The car immediately behind Kennedy’s contained Secret Service agents and two political operatives. None of them mentioned anything about the car in front stopping:

  • Sam Kinney (18), the driver of the Secret Service car, merely claimed that the car was travelling slowly and that Greer accelerated after the shots were fired.
  • Clint Hill (19), the agent who ran forward and jumped onto the presidential car, said nothing about the car stopping.
  • John Ready (20) wrote that “the President’s car slowed.”
  • Glen Bennett (21) stated only that the presidential car sped up after the shooting.
  • William “Tim” McIntyre (24) said nothing about the car or the motorcade stopping.
  • Kenneth O’Donnell (56) said nothing about the car or the motorcade stopping.
  • David Powers (57) said nothing about the car or the motorcade stopping.

On the Overpass

Of the several witnesses on the overpass, just ahead of the cars during the shooting, two suggested that the presidential limousine may have stopped:

  • Clemon Earl Johnson (6) told a researcher in the 1990s: “You could see it speed up and then stop, then speed up, and you could see it stop while they threw Mrs Kennedy back up in the car.”
  • A Dallas policeman, Earle Brown (10) stated to the Warren Commission that President Kennedy’s car “slowed down.”
  • J.W. Foster (17), another policeman, stated that “immediately after President Kennedy was struck … the car in which he was riding pulled to the curb.”
  • Sam Holland (44) stated in an interview with Palamara that “the Presidential limousine slowed down on Elm Street.”
  • James Leon Simmons (54), according to Palamara, testified during the Clay Shaw trial that “the car stopped or almost stopped.” Simmons actually stated that the car “paused and then accelerated real fast.”

Police Motorcyclists

All four of the police motorcyclists surrounding President Kennedy’s car suggested that the car may in fact have stopped:

  • Bobby Hargis (11) told the Warren Commission: “At that time [immediately before the head shot] the Presidential car slowed down. I heard somebody say ‘Get going.’ I felt blood hit me in the face and the Presidential car stopped almost immediately after that.” In a later taped interview, he claimed that the car “slowed down almost to a stop.”
  • James Chaney (13) was reported second–hand as saying that “from the time the first shot rang out, the car stopped completely, pulled to the left and stopped.” According to another second–hand report, Chaney said that “the Presidential car stopped momentarily after the first shot,” but also that “the automobile came to — almost came to a complete halt after the first shot — did not quite stop, but almost did.”
  • B.J. Martin (14) stated that the presidential car stopped “just for a moment.”
  • Douglas L. Jackson (15) stated that “the car just all but stopped … just a moment.”

Witnesses on Elm Street

There was a difference of opinion among those spectators on Elm Street with a clear view of the car. The majority of these witnesses claimed that the car only slowed down; a couple of witnesses suggested that the car, or at least some elements of the motorcade, stopped; and one witness stated forcefully that President Kennedy’s car did in fact stop:

  • Malcolm Summers (7), on the south side of Elm Street, said that “there was some hesitation in the caravan itself, a momentary halt, to give the Secret Service man a chance to catch up with the car and jump on.”
  • Winston Lawson (23), a Secret Service agent riding in the car ahead of JFK’s car, hinted that the motorcade behind him had slowed down but said nothing about any cars stopping.
  • Mary Woodward (31), a Dallas Morning News reporter, was standing on the north side of Elm Street. She claimed that after the first shot, “instead of speeding up the car, the car came to a halt.” At a conference in 1992, she apparently claimed that the car “nearly stopped.”
  • James Altgens (32) said nothing about the car stopping, only that it sped away after the shooting.
  • Alan Smith (33), a 14–year–old schoolboy standing about halfway along the north side of Elm Street, told the Chicago Tribune that “the car was ten feet from me when a bullet hit the President in the forehead … the car went about five feet and stopped.”
  • John Chism (49) said nothing about the car stopping.
  • Maurice Orr (45) appears never to have been interviewed by an official body, but according to a Dallas researcher he claimed that the “motorcade stopped.”
  • Billie P. Clay (46), standing on Elm Street “150 feet west of the Depository building,” stated in March 1964 that “the car President Kenedy was in slowed.”
  • William Newman (50) was adamant that the car stopped. Palamara cites several accounts of interviews with researchers: “the car momentarily stopped and the driver seemed to have a radio or phone up to his ear and he seemed to be waiting on some word. … Then the cars roared off. … I’ve maintained that they stopped. I still say they did. It was only a momentary stop, but … I believe Kennedy’s car came to a full stop after the final shot. Now everywhere that you read about it, you don’t read anything about the car stopping. And when I say ‘stopped’ I mean very momentarily, like they hit the brakes and just a few seconds passed and then they floorboarded and accelerated on … and just for a moment they hesitated and stopped.”
  • Charles Brehm (51) told the FBI that “It seemed to him that the automobile almost came to a halt after the first shot, but of this he is not certain.”
  • Mary Moorman (52) told the FBI that she “has the impression that the car either stopped momentarily or hesitated and then drove off in a hurry.”
  • Jean Hill (53), who had been standing next to Moorman, told the Warren Commission that “the motorcade came to almost a halt at the time the shots rang out.”

More Distant Witnesses

In the Motorcade on Elm Street

In the remaining three cars on Elm Street, three witnesses described the motorcade, though not the presidential limousine itself, as perhaps having stopped:

  • Joe Henry Rich (16), who was driving Lyndon Johnson’s car, claimed that “the motorcade came to a stop momentarily.”
  • Senator Ralph Yarborough (58), sitting next to Johnson, wrote in an affidavit that “the motorcade slowed to what seemed to me a complete stop (though it could have been a near stop).”
  • Thomas “Lem” Johns (22), a Secret Service agent in the car behind Johnson’s car, said nothing about the motorcade stopping.
  • Mrs Earle Cabell (25), the wife of the Mayor of Dallas, was in the car behind the second Secret Service car. She claimed that the motorcade “stopped dead still when the noise of the shot was heard.”

Around the Texas School Book Depository

Witnesses around the Book Depository and further away would have had a poor view of President Kennedy’s car itself. Most of them suggested only that the motorcade may have stopped:

  • James W. Courson (4), a motorcycle policeman, stated in an interview with a researcher that “the limousine came to a stop and Mrs. Kennedy was on the back. I noticed that as I came around the corner at Elm.”
  • Bobby Joe Dale (5), another police motorcyclist some way back in the motorcade, told the same researcher that “after the shots were fired, the whole motorcade came to a stop.”
  • D.V. Harkness (12), a policeman directing traffic on the corner of Houston Street and Elm Street, told the Warren Commission that “I saw the first shot and the President’s car slow down to almost a stop … and saw the President’s car almost come to a stop.”
  • Phil Willis (26) was standing with his wife Marilyn opposite the Book Depository. He claimed that “the party had come to a temporary halt before proceeding on to the underpass.”
  • Marilyn Willis (27) agreed that after the fatal shot, “the Presidential limousine paused momentarily and then sped away.”
  • Ruth M. Smith (34), who was on the second floor of the court house on Houston Street, stated to the FBI that “The car seemed to slow or perhaps stop.”
  • Roy Truly (35), standing outside the TSBD, told the Warren Commission that “I saw the President’s car swerve to the left and stop somewheres down in the area … [it stopped] for a second or two or something like that … I just saw it stop.”
  • L.R. Terry (36), standing opposite the TSBD, told a researcher that “the parade stopped right in front of the [TSBD] building.”
  • Ochus V. Campbell (37), standing outside the TSBD, saw the car “slow down, a near stop.”
  • Peggy Joyce Hawkins (38), also standing outside the TSBD, claimed that “the car slowed down almost coming to a full stop.”
  • Billy Lovelady (39), who was standing in the entrance to the TSBD, told the Warren Commission that “I ran toward the spot where President Kennedy’s car had stopped.”
  • Harry Holmes (41), watching from the Post Office building on the south side of Dealey Plaza, told the Warren Commission that the car “almost came to a stop.”
  • Peggy Burney (42), one of Abraham Zapruder’s employees, was standing at an unidentified location on the north side of Elm Street. She “stated that JFK’s car had come to a stop,” in Palamara’s words, perhaps quoting a Dallas Times Herald article from 24 November 1963.
  • Rose Clark (47), who was in the court building on Houston Street, told the FBI in January 1964 that “the President’s automobile came almost to a halt following the three shots, before it picked up speed and drove away.”
  • Hugh Betzner (48), was running down Elm Street, following President Kennedy’s car: “I looked down the street and I could see the President’s car and another one and they looked like the cars were stopped.”

In the Motorcade on Houston Street

Those in the journalists’ and photographers’ vehicles would have had an even worse view of the president’s car, and must have been describing the motorcade rather than the car:

  • Bo Byers (1) was in the White House press bus, at least eight vehicles behind Kennedy’s car, and may have only just reached Houston Street at the time of the shooting. He claimed that the presidential limousine “almost came to a stop, a dead stop.”
  • Bob Clark (2), in the national press pool car, “Reported on the air that the limousine stopped on Elm Street during the shooting,” according to Palamara.
  • Merriman Smith (3), in the same car as Clark, stated that the presidential limousine “seemed to falter briefly.”
  • Robert MacNeil (8), in the White House press bus, wrote that “the president’s driver slammed on the brakes … after the third shot.”
  • Henry Burroughs (9), an Associated Press photographer riding in camera car no.2, wrote to Palamara that “we heard the shots and the motorcade stopped.”
  • Robert Baskin (30), a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, was in the press car. He wrote the next day that “the motorcade ground to a halt.”
  • David Broder (43), a reporter for the Washington Evening Star, wrote that “the President’s car paused momentarily.”

Dubious Witnesses

Palamara cites two people whose evidence is problematic:

  • An unnamed witness (40) in the courthouse building on Houston Street apparently claimed that “the cavalcade stopped there and there was bedlam.”
  • Norman Similas (55) is quoted as claiming that “the Presidential limousine had passed me and slowed down slightly.” It is far from certain that Similas was actually in Dealey Plaza on 22 November 1963.

Did the Car Stop or Just Slow Down?

Evidence that the Car Stopped

It is noteworthy that only one of Palamara’s 59 witnesses stated forcefully that President Kennedy’s car actually stopped. That witness, William Newman, was consistent in his claim that the car stopped very briefly: “momentarily … only a momentary stop … very momentarily … just for a moment.” Similar words were used by Mary Moorman and by three of the four police motorcyclists closest to the car, James Chaney, B.J. Martin and Douglas Jackson, although two of these five witnesses qualified their statements: Chaney stated that the car “did not quite stop, but almost did,” and Moorman stated that “the car either stopped momentarily or hesitated.”

All of these witnesses were very close to the car at the time of the fatal shot. As well as Newman, Martin and Jackson, two other witnesses with a clear view of the presidential limousine claimed unequivocally that the car itself, rather than other elements of the motorcade, had stopped:

  • Clemon Johnson, who was standing on the overpass,
  • and Alan Smith, who was standing on the north side of Elm Street.

Eight other witnesses, all of whom were further away and are likely to have had their view of the car partially obscured by other vehicles in the motorcade or by other spectators, stated that it had stopped:

  • James Courson, a police motorcyclist who was turning the corner from Houston Street onto Elm Street;
  • Marilyn Willis and Hugh Betzner, who were on the south side of Elm Street opposite the Texas School Book Depository;
  • Roy Truly and Peggy Burney, who were standing on the north side of Elm Street outside the TSBD;
  • Billy Lovelady, who was standing in the doorway of the TSBD;
  • and Bob Clark and David Broder, who were at various locations on Houston Street.

Evidence that the Car Did Not Stop

That makes, at most, 13 witnesses who claimed unambiguously and consistently that the car had stopped. Of these 13 witnesses, probably no more than five would have had a clear view of the car, which was travelling almost directly away from the other eight witnesses, making it difficult for the latter to determine whether the car had stopped or merely slowed down.

Against this are the remaining 44 credible witnesses, who either claimed that the car merely slowed down or who failed to state whether the presidential car, as opposed to other cars in the motorcade, slowed down or stopped. More than half of these 44 witnesses either had a clear view of the car or were passengers in the car.

Altogether, there are 31 witnesses in Palamara’s list who either had an unobstructed view of the presidential car or who were in the car themselves. Of these 31 witnesses, fewer than one in six stated unambiguously that the car stopped. In addition, there are several other witnesses who were well placed to notice the car’s movements and who gave official statements or testimony, but who did not mention anything about the car slowing down or stopping, and so were not included in Palamara’s list. Examples that come to mind are William Greer and Roy Kellerman, who were in the car; Abraham Zapruder, who had an excellent viewpoint and who did not mention any discrepancy between what he saw and what his film shows; and Emmett Hudson, who was on the steps by the grassy knoll.

Conclusion

A large majority of the witnesses’ statements are consistent with what can be seen in the three home movies: President Kennedy’s car slowed down but did not stop during the shooting. If the car did come to a complete halt, several other things must also have happened:

  • well over 80% of the witnesses who had a clear view of the car did not notice that it had stopped;
  • the Zapruder film was altered to disguise this event;
  • the Nix film was altered to match the altered Zapruder film;
  • and the Muchmore film, which remained undeveloped until it was sold to UPI on 25 November, was altered to match the altered Zapruder and Nix films.

It is much more likely, of course, that those few witnesses who stated unambiguously that the car stopped had simply misremembered one detail of a very brief, unexpected and traumatic event, and that the reason why a large majority of witnesses failed to report the car stopping was because the car did not in fact stop.

Appendix: The Fifty–Nine Witnesses

The witnesses are numbered according to Palamara’s original article. Links have been added to those sources that are available online, for the benefit of readers who want to check the exact wording of witnesses’ statements.

It hasn’t been possible to verify every one of Palamara’s sources, some of which are second–hand and difficult to locate, and some of which are interviews conducted by the House Select Committee on Assassinations. At the time of writing, these interviews are not available online, although their details can be found at https://www.maryferrell.org/php/jfkdb.php?field=recno&subfield=180.

1: Bo Byers

Bo Byers, a reporter for the Houston Chronicle, was in the White House press bus. He was interviewed for a TV programme in which he stated twice that the Presidential limousine “almost came to a stop, a dead stop.” The source quoted is Journalists Remember The Kennedy Assassination, C–SPAN, 20 November 1993. Sheldon Inkol, ‘Reporters Remember: 11/22/63’, The Fourth Decade, vol.1, no.2, pp.28–31, is an account of a conference at Southern Methodist University on 20 November 1993 in which a number of journalists recounted their experiences over the assassination weekend. Inkol claims on p.28 that Byers stated that JFK’s car “nearly stopped.”

2: Bob Clark

Bob Clark, a reporter for ABC, was in the national press car immediately in front of the three camera cars. Palamara states that Clark “reported on the air that the limousine stopped on Elm Street during the shooting.”

3: Merriman Smith

Also in the national press car was UPI’s White House reporter, Merriman Smith. Palamara quotes him as writing that “the President’s car, possibly as much as 150 or 200 yards ahead, seemed to falter briefly.”

4: James W. Courson

Courson, a Dallas police motorcyclist who was several car–lengths back in the motorcade, is quoted in Larry Sneed, No More Silence, p.129, stating that “the limousine came to a stop and Mrs Kennedy was on the back. I noticed that as I came around the corner at Elm. Then the Secret Service agent [Clint Hill] helped push her back into the car, and the motorcade took off at a high rate of speed.”

5: Bobby Joe Dale

Dale, a police motorcyclist who was near Courson, is quoted by Sneed, op. cit., p.134: “After the shots were fired, the whole motorcade came to a stop. I stood and looked through the plaza, noticed there was commotion, and saw people running around his [JFK’s] car. It started to move, then it slowed again; that’s when I saw Mrs Kennedy coming back on the trunk and another guy pushing her back into the car.”

6: Clemon Earl Johnson

Johnson, a railway worker standing on the overpass, is quoted by Sneed, op. cit., p.80: “You could see it speed up and then stop, then speed up, and you could see it stop while they threw Mrs Kennedy back up in the car. Then they just left out of there like a bat of the eye and were just gone.”

7: Malcolm Summers

According to Sneed, op. cit., p.104, Summers stated that “there was some hesitation in the caravan itself, a momentary halt, to give the Secret Service man a chance to catch up with the car and jump on. It seems to me that it started back up by the time he got to the car.”

8: Robert MacNeil

Robert MacNeil of NBC was in the White House press bus, some way back in the motorcade. He wrote (in The Way We Were, 1963: The Year Kennedy Was Shot) that “The President’s driver slammed on the brakes … after the third shot.”

9: Henry Burroughs

Palamara quotes a letter to him from Henry Burroughs, an Associated Press photographer in camera car no.2: “we heard the shots and the motorcade stopped.”

10: Earle Brown

Earle Brown, a Dallas policeman, was stationed on top of the overpass on Elm Street. According to Palamara, he stated to the Warren Commission that “The first I noticed the car was when it stopped … after it made the turn and when the shots were fired, it stopped.”

Palamara is rather selective in his quotation from Brown’s testimony. Here is the full passage (Warren Commission Hearings and Exhibits, vol.6, p.233):

Mr Brown :
The first I noticed the car was when it stopped.
Mr Ball :
Where?
Mr Brown :
After it made the turn and when the shots were fired, it stopped.
Mr Ball :
Did it come to a complete stop?
Mr Brown :
That, I couldn’t swear to.
Mr Ball :
It appeared to be slowed down some?
Mr Brown :
Yes; slowed down.

11: Bobby Hargis

Hargis was one of the two police motorcyclists riding to the left rear of the presidential limousine. He told the Warren Commission that “when President Kennedy straightened back up in the car the bullet hit him in the head, the one that killed him. … And at that time the Presidential car slowed down” (WCHE, vol.6, p.294). Palamara also quotes a later videotaped interview in which Hargis states “that guy slowed down, maybe his orders was to slow down … slowed down almost to a stop.”

12: D.V. Harkness

Harkness, a policeman, was directing traffic on the corner by the TSBD. He told the Warren Commission: “I saw the first shot and the President’s car slow down to almost a stop … and saw the President’s car almost come to a stop” (WCHE, vol.6, p.309).

13: James Chaney

Chaney was one of the four police motorcyclists closest to Kennedy’s car. Two second–hand reports have him claiming that the car stopped. Mark Lane, in front of the Warren Commission, referred to a report in the Houston Chronicle of 24 November 1963. According to Lane (WCHE, vol.2, pp.44–45), Chaney “stated that the Presidential car stopped momentarily after the first shot,” and that “the automobile came to — almost came to a complete halt after the first shot — did not quite stop, but almost did.” According to a fellow officer, Marrion Baker (WCHE, vol.3, p.266), Chaney claimed that “from the time the first shot rang out, the car stopped completely, pulled to the left and stopped.”

14: B.J. Martin

Martin, one of the four police motorcyclists closest to President Kennedy’s car, stated that the car stopped “just for a moment.” Palamara’s source is “Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 71.”

15: Douglas L. Jackson

Jackson, another of the police motorcyclists closest to the Presidential car, stated “that the car just all but stopped … just a moment.” The source is given as Newcomb and Adams, op. cit., p.71.

16: Joe Henry Rich

Rich, who was driving Lyndon Johnson’s car, stated that “the motorcade came to a stop momentarily.” Palamara’s source is again Newcomb and Adams, op. cit., p.71.

17: J.W. Foster

J.W. Foster, a policeman on the overpass, stated in an interview with the FBI (Commission Document 897, p.20) that “immediately after President Kennedy was struck with a second bullet, the car in which he was riding pulled to the curb.” Palamara also cites “Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 97,” but doesn’t state what extra information the book provides.

18: Sam Kinney

Palamara writes:

18. Secret Service Agent Sam Kinney (driver of the follow–up car behind JFK’s limo) indicates, via his report to Chief Rowley, that Greer hit the gas after the fatal head shot to JFK and after the President’s slump to the left toward Jackie. [18 H 731–732]. From the HSCA’s 2/26/78 interview of Kinney: “He also remarked that ‘when Greer (the driver of the Presidential limousine) looked back, his foot must have come off the accelerator.’ Kinney observed that at the time of the first shot, the speed of the motorcade was ‘3 to 5 miles an hour.’” [RIF#180–10078–10493; author’s interviews with Kinney, 1992–1994];

19: Clint Hill

Hill, in the car behind Kenney, famously ran forward and jumped onto the presidential car as Jackie Kennedy began climbing out of the back seat. He fails to state that the car slowed down or stopped. Palamara quotes Hill’s written statement that “I jumped from the follow–up car and ran toward the Presidential automobile. I heard a second firecracker–type noise … SA Greer had, as I jumped onto the Presidential automobile, accelerated the Presidential automobile forward” (WCHE, vol.18, p.742).

20: John Ready

Ready, a Secret Service agent in the car behind Kennedy, wrote during the evening of 22 November (WCHE, vol.18, p.750): “I heard what sounded like fire crackers going off from my post on the right front running board. The President’s car slowed.”

21: Glen Bennett

Glen Bennett, one of the Secret Service agents on the rear seat of the car behind Kennedy, wrote that “the President’s car immediately kicked into high gear.” See WCHE, vol.18, p.760 for a typed version of Bennett’s statement and WCHE, vol.24, p.542 for his original, hand–written statement. Palamara writes that “During his 1/30/78 HSCA interview, Bennett said the follow-up car was moving at ‘10–12 m.p.h.’, an indication of the pace of the motorcade on Elm Street [RIF#180–10082–10452].” Bennett was sitting next to George Hickey, the Secret Service agent falsely accused of shooting JFK by accident.

22: Thomas “Lem” Johns

Johns, a Secret Service agent immediately behind Johnson’s car, commented only that “I felt that if there was danger due to the slow speed of the automobile …” (WCHE, vol.18, p.774). Palamara adds that “During his 8/8/78 HSCA interview, Johns said that ‘Our car was moving very slowly,’ a further indication of the pace of the motorcade on Elm Street [RIF #180–10074–10079; Altgens photo].”

23: Winston Lawson

Lawson had nothing to say about the car slowing down or stopping. Palamara writes:

23. Secret Service Agent Winston Lawson (riding in the lead car, immediately in front of the Presidential limousine): “I think it [the lead car on Elm Street] was a little further ahead [of JFK’s limo] than it had been in the motorcade, because when I looked back we were further ahead.” [4 H 352], an indication of the lag in the limo during the assassination.

24: William “Tim” McIntyre

McIntyre, in the car behind Kennedy, “stated that Greer, driver of the Presidential limousine, accelerated after the third shot.” Palamara cites “RIF #180–10082–10454: 1/31/78 HSCA interview.”

25: Mrs Earle (“Dearie”) Cabell

Mrs Cabell, the wife of the mayor of Dallas, was in the motorcade on Houston Street, out of sight of President Kennedy’s car. She testified to the Warren Commission that “I was aware that the motorcade stopped dead still. There was no question about that. … Every car in the motorcade had come to a standstill. … We were dead still for a matter of some seconds” (WCHE, vol.7, p.487).

26: Phil Willis

Phillip Willis, who was photographing the parade from the south side of Elm Street, told the Warren Commission that “the party had come to a temporary halt before proceeding on to the underpass” (WCHE, vol.7, p.497).

27: Marilyn Willis

Marilyn Willis, who was standing next to her husband, Phil, told the FBI that “ the Presidential limousine paused momentarily and then sped away under the Triple Underpass.” Palamara gives his sources as “FBI report dated 6/19/64; Photographic Whitewash by Harold Weisberg (1967), p.179.”

28: Nellie Connally

Palamara refers to WCHE, vol.4, p.147 and Warren Report, p.50, although neither source gives Nellie Connally’s opinion of whether the car she was in slowed down or stopped.

29: John Connally

John Connally, like his wife, did not mention the car slowing down or stopping. Palamara cites WCHE, vol.4, p.133 and Warren Report, p.50.

30: Robert Baskin

Baskin, a reporter for the Dallas Morning News, was riding in the national press journalists’ car. He wrote in his paper the next day that “the motorcade ground to a halt.”

31: Mary Woodward

Woodward, a journalist on the Dallas Morning News, was standing on the north side of Elm Street. She wrote in her paper the next day that “instead of speeding up, the car came to a halt” (quoted by Mark Lane: WCHE, vol.2, p.43). Palamara cites Woodward’s FBI interview (Commission Exhibit 2084 [WCHE, vol.24, p.520]), which fails to mention anything about whether any of the cars slowed down or stopped, as well as “The Men Who Killed Kennedy, 1988”; Journalists Remember The Kennedy Assassination, C–SPAN, 20 November 1993; and Sheldon Inkol, ‘Reporters Remember: 11/22/63’, The Fourth Decade, vol.1, no.2, p.29. Inkol writes that Woodward “mentioned that the presidential limo ‘nearly stopped’ and that the Secret Service reacted very slowly.”

32: James Altgens

Altgens, the Associated Press photographer who took the picture of Billy Lovelady standing in the doorway of the TSBD, did not mention anything about the car slowing down or stopping. Palamara writes:

He said the President’s car was proceeding at about ten miles per hour at the time [of the shooting] … Altgens stated the driver of the Presidential limousine apparently realized what had happened and speeded up toward the Stemmons Expressway.” [FBI report dated 6/5/64; Photographic Whitewash by Harold Weisberg (1967), p.203] “The car’s driver realized what had happened and almost if by reflex speeded up toward the Stemmons Expressway.” [AP dispatch, 11/22/63; Cover–Up by Stewart Galanor (1998), Document 28]

33: Alan Smith

Alan Smith, who was aged 14 at the time of the assassination, was quoted by the Chicago Tribune (23 November 1963, p.9) as follows: “I was standing on the curb watching the parade along Main Street. … The car was ten feet from me when a bullet hit the President in the forehead. … The car went about five feet and stopped.” Smith’s recollection that he was on Main Street appears to have been a simple mistake. Chris Scally, ‘Alan Smith and Friends’, Dealey Plaza Echo, vol.17 no.3 (Winter 2012), pp.38–46, makes a good case that Alan Smith is one of the two boys who, at the time of the shooting, were photographed standing on the north side of Elm Street, just to the east of the man with an umbrella over his head and the man with his right arm in the air. Smith was not much more than 10 feet from Kennedy at the time of the fatal shot.

34: Ruth M. Smith

Ruth Smith was watching the parade from the second–floor balcony of the court house on Main Street, and had a partial view of Elm Street. She stated to the FBI (CD 206, p.9) that “The car seemed to slow or perhaps stop after the first shot and then just after the third shot a Secret Service man from the second car ran up to the rear of the President’s car and threw himself into the rear seat. The car immediately sped away.”

According to Palamara, Smith “confirmed that the Presidential limousine had come to a stop.” As well as her FBI statement, Palamara cites “Newcomb & Adams [1974], p.97”, which may contain the confirmation he claims she made.

35: Roy Truly

Roy Truly the TSBD’s supervisor, was standing on the north side of Elm Street, near the building’s front entrance. He told the Warren Commission (WCHE, vol.3, p.221):

Mr Truly :
I saw the President’s car swerve to the left and stop somewheres down in this area. It is misleading here. And that is the last I saw of his car, because this crowd … began screaming and falling to the ground. …
Mr Belin :
When you saw the President’s car seem to stop, how long did it appear to stop?
Mr Truly :
It would be hard to say over a second or two or something like that. I didn’t see — I just saw it stop. I don’t know. I didn’t see it start up. … The crowd in front of me kind of congealed around me and bore me back through weight of numbers, and I lost sight of it.

36: L.R. Terry

L.R. Terry, who was standing on the south side of Elm Street opposite the front entrance to the TSBD, told the researcher Jim Marrs that “The parade stopped right in front of the building” (Jim Marrs, Crossfire: the Plot that Killed Kennedy, Pocket Books, 1993, p.26).

37: Ochus V. Campbell

Campbell, the vice–president of the Texas School Book Depository company, was standing next to Roy Truly in front of the TSBD. He told the FBI (CE 1435 [WCHE, vol22., p.845]) that “he then observed the car bearing President Kennedy to slow down, a near stop, and a motorcycle policeman rushed up. Immediately following this, he observed the car rush away from the scene.”

38: Peggy Joyce Hawkins

Peggy Hawkins was standing on the front steps of the TSBD. According to Palamara, she “‘estimated that the President’s car was less than 50 feet away from her when he was shot, that the car slowed down almost coming to a full stop.’ [Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb and Perry Adams (1974), p. 97].”

39: Billy Lovelady

Billy Lovelady told the FBI (CE 1381 [WCHE, vol22., p.662]) that “I recall that following the shooting, I ran toward the spot where President Kennedy's car had stopped.”

40: Anonymous

Palamara writes: “An unnamed witness, from his vantage point in the courthouse building, stated that ‘The cavalcade stopped there and there was bedlam.’ [Dallas Times Herald, 11/24/63; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 97].”

41: Harry Holmes

Holmes was watching the motorcade through binoculars from the opposite side of Dealey Plaza. He told the Warren Commission that “the car almost came to a stop” (WCHE, vol.7, p.291).

Palamara also writes that “He noticed the car pull to a halt, and Holmes thought: ‘They are dodging something being thrown.’ [The Day Kennedy Was Shot by Jim Bishop (1967), p. 176].”

42: Peggy Burney

Palamara writes that Peggy Burney “stated that JFK’s car had come to a stop. [Dallas Times Herald, 11/24/63; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 97.”

43: David Broder

Broder, a reporter on the press bus, wrote (in the Washington Evening Star, 23 November 1963, p.8) that “The President’s car paused momentarily, then on orders from a Secret Service agent, spurted ahead.”

Incidentally, David Broder’s surname is given as ‘Broden’ in the printed version of Palamara’s article and as ‘Broeder’ in the online versions. According to the Washington Star papers at the District of Columbia Library, ‘Broder’ is the correct spelling. The newspaper was known as the Washington Evening Star at the time of the assassination but later dropped the word ‘Evening.’

44: Sam Holland

Holland, on the overpass, in Palamara’s words “stated that the Presidential limousine slowed down on Elm Street. [Taped interview with Holland conducted in April, 1965].”

45: Maurice Orr

Palamara writes that Orr, “(standing on north side of Elm; exact position uncertain; possibly on the concrete steps?) noted that ‘the motorcade stopped.’ [Arch Kimbrough, Mary Ferrell, and Sue Fitch, Chronology, unpublished manuscript; see also Anthony Summers, Conspiracy, 1989, p. 20 and 23.” The latest version of Summers’ book places Orr opposite Mary Moorman (p.36), and cites “conversation with Dallas researcher, November 22, 1963, and subsequently. Orr was never interviewed by any official body” (p.460). The relevant page of Mary Ferrell’s Chronology (https://www.maryferrell.org/showDoc.html?docId=40392&relPageId=82) states simply “Motorcade stopped.”

46: Billie P. Clay

Clay told the FBI (CE 1381, p.20 (WCHE, vol.22, p.641)) that “When I heard the second and third shots I knew someone was shooting at the President. I did not know if the President had been hit, but I knew something was wrong. At this point the car President Kenedy was in slowed and I, along with others, moved toward the President’s car. As we neared the car it sped off.”

47: Rose Clark

Clark stated to the FBI (CE 2100 (WCHE, vol.24, p.533)) that “She noted that the President’s automobile came almost to a halt following the three shots, before it picked up speed and drove away.”

48: Hugh Betzner

Betzner, who was on the south side of Elm Street, stated that “I looked down the street and I could see the President’s car and another one and they looked like the cars were stopped. … Then the President’s car sped on under the underpass” (WCHE, vol.19, p.467).

49: John Chism

Chism stated to the Sherrif’s Department that he “saw the motorcade beginning to speed up” (WCHE, vol.19, p.471).

50: William Newman

Although Newman’s statement to the FBI (CE 1432 (WCHE, vol.22, pp.842–843)) does not mention anything about the car slowing down or stopping, Palamara found four instances in which Newman does mention this:

  • “The car momentarily stopped and the driver seemed to have a radio or phone up to his ear and he seemed to be waiting on some word. Some Secret Service men reached into their car and came out with some sort of machine gun. Then the cars roared off. … I’ve maintained that they stopped. I still say they did. It was only a momentary stop, but …” Sources: “Crossfire by Jim Marrs (1989), p. 70; Murder From Within by Fred Newcomb & Perry Adams (1974), p. 96.”
  • “I believe Kennedy’s car came to a full stop after the final shot.” Source: “JFK: Breaking The Silence by Bill Sloan (1993), p. 169.”
  • “I believe it was the passenger in the front seat … there were two men in the front seat … had a telephone or something to his ear and the car momentarily stopped. Now everywhere that you read about it, you don’t read anything about the car stopping. And when I say ‘stopped’ I mean very momentarily, like they hit the brakes and just a few seconds passed and then they floorboarded and accelerated on.” Source: “11/20/97 videotaped interview with Bill Law, Mark Row, & Ian Griggs, as transcribed in November Patriots by Connie Kritzberg & Larry Hancock (1998), p. 362 and also in Dealey Plaza Echo, March 1998, p.7.”
  • “One of the two men in the front seat of the car had a telephone in his hand, and as I was looking back at the car covering my son, I can remember seeing the tail lights of the car, and just for a moment they hesitated and stopped, and then they floorboarded the car and shot off.” Source: “No More Silence by Larry Sneed (1998), p. 96.”

51: Charles Brehm

Brehm was standing very close to the car as Kennedy was hit in the head. According to his FBI interview (CE 1425, p.2 [WCHE, vol.22, p.838]), “Brehm expressed his opinion that between the first and third shots, the President’s car only seemed to move some 10 or 12 feet. It seemed to him that the automobile almost came to a halt after the first shot, but of this he is not certain. After the third shot, the car in which the President was riding increased its speed and went under the freeway overpass and out of his sight.”

52: Mary Moorman

Moorman, who was standing near Charles Brehm, told the FBI that “She recalls that the President’s automobile was moving at the time she took the second picture, and when she heard the shots, and has the impression that the car either stopped momentarily or hesistated and then drove off in a hurry (CE 1426 [WCHE, vol.22, p.838]).

53: Jean Hill

Jean Hill was standing next to Mary Moorman. She told the Warren Commission (WCHE, vol.6, p.209) that “The motorcade came to almost a halt at the time the shots rang out and I would say it was just approximately, if not — it couldn’t have been in the same position, I’m sure it wasn’t, but just a very, very short distance from where it had been. It was just almost stunned. … I just stood there looking around and I’m sure there wasn’t a pause — it seemed like an eternity but I’m sure there was just a slight pause before things started moving again.”

54: James Leon Simmons

According to Palamara, Simmons stated that “The car stopped or almost stopped.” He cites “2/15/69 Clay Shaw trial testimony; Forgive My Grief Vol. III by Penn Jones, p. 53; High Treason by Groden & Livingstone (1990 Berkley Edition), p. 22.” The quotation does not appear in the official typed transcript. It appears in the Groden and Livingstone volume, which cites the Jones volume but not the official transcript. The Jones volume, on page 53, quotes the following exchange from the trial:

Q :
Did the car speed up?
A :
No, in fact the car stopped, or almost stopped.
Q :
Then did the car speed up?
A :
Yes, after they got the motorcycle policeman out of the way.

There is a similar passage in the trial transcript. After Simmons recounted to Alvin Oser that he saw President Kennedy being shot in the head, Oser continued:

Q :
What did the limousine do then?
A :
It paused and then accelerated real fast after the motorcycle got out the way.

Clay Shaw Trial Transcript, 15 February 1969, p.8

Jones, a journalist, assembled his book from his newspaper articles. The one in question dates from 24 April 1969. The discrepancies are presumably due to his reliance on memories rather than the official transcript.

55: Norman Similas

Palamara quotes a sentence from an article about Norman Similas, a Canadian photographer: “The Presidential limousine had passed me and slowed down slightly.” (Liberty magazine, 15 July 1964, p.13, reproduced as CD 1538: part one and part two, from which the quote is taken.) Similas claimed to have been on the south side of Elm Street, just a few feet from Kennedy, at the time of the fatal shot, and to have taken a photograph showing a rifle in a TSBD window. He also claimed to have met Jack Ruby and Lyndon Johnson during his trip to Dallas. Similas has not been identified among the spectators on Elm Street; nor has he produced his alleged photograph. Norman Similas’s claims are, to put it mildly, not widely believed. For a critical account, see http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/similas.htm.

56: Kenneth O’Donnell

O’Donnell, the car immediately behind Kennedy’s, stated only that “It accelerated, I would think, right about the time that Agent Hill grabbed onto the back of the car, which would be just a few seconds after the last shot” (WCHE, vol.7, p.450). Palamara mentions statements by O’Donnell to the effect that Greer could perhaps have done better by accelerating sooner.

57: David Powers

Powers, sitting next to Kenneth O’Donnell, wrote in an affidavit that “About the time of the third shot, the President’s car accelerated sharply” (WCHE, vol.7, p.473).

58: Ralph Yarborough

Senator Ralph Yarborough was in the vice–presidential car. He stated in an affidavit (WCHE, vol.7, p.440) that “When the noise of the shot was heard, the motorcade slowed to what seemed to me a complete stop (though it could have been a near stop). … After the third shot was fired, but only after the third shot was fired, the cavalcade speeded up, gained speed rapidly, and roared away to the Parkland Hospital.”

59: Jacqueline Kennedy

Jacqueline Kennedy said nothing about the car slowing down or stopping.