Jim Leavelle

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Jim Leavelle
Lee Harvey Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby as Oswald is being moved by police, 1963.jpg
Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald on November 24, 1963. Leavelle is at the left side of the photograph, in the light suit.
Born James Robert Leavelle
(1920-08-23) August 23, 1920 (age 95)
Red River County, Texas
Nationality American
Jim Leavelle sign.jpg

James Robert "Jim" Leavelle (born August 23, 1920) is the former Dallas, Texas, homicide detective who was escorting Lee Harvey Oswald through the basement of Dallas Police headquarters when Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. Widely distributed photographs of Oswald shortly before the shooting, depict Leavelle standing to Oswald's right and wearing a light-colored suit with matching hat.

Early life and military service[edit]

Leavelle was born and raised in Red River County, Texas. He served in the United States Navy during World War II, and was a sailor on board the USS Whitney during the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.[1]

Police career[edit]

He joined the Dallas Police Department in April 1950 and retired in April 1975.[2][3]

Kennedy and Oswald[edit]

Leavelle said to author Joseph McBride that to him, the murder of President John F. Kennedy was "no different than a south Dallas nigger killing". This remark reveals that Leavelle was a racist who was not really concerned about who killed President Kennedy.

Leavelle was placed in charge of investigating Tippit's murder (With Malice, Chapter 7). When Leavelle testified before the Warren Commission, he claimed that the first time he had ever sat in on an interrogation with Oswald was on Sunday morning, November 24, 1963 (WC Volume VII, page 268). In fact, when Counsel Joseph Ball asked Leavelle if he had ever spoken to Oswald before this interrogation, he stated; "No; I had never talked to him before"! (ibid) Leavelle then stated during his testimony that; "...the only time I had connections with Oswald was this Sunday morning [November 24, 1963]. I never had [the] occasion to talk with him at any time..." (ibid, page 269).

In a 2006 interview, Leavelle changed his story, claiming that he was was the first to interrogate Oswald after his arrest, in contrast to his Warren Commission testimony above. He also claimed that he joked to Oswald before the transfer, " 'Lee, if anybody shoots at you, I hope they're as good a shot as you are,' meaning that the person would hit Oswald instead of me. He kind of smiled and said, ‘You're being melodramatic...Nobody’s going to shoot at me.’ ”[1]

He personally believes that Oswald acted alone in killing Kennedy, and said that in a 2006 discussion, he was told by Oswald's brother Robert that he believes the same thing, "because I knew my brother."[1]

On March 25, 1964, Leavelle provided testimony to Warren Commission assistant counsel Leon Hubert at the Post Office Building in Dallas.[4] He provided additional testimony there to assistant counsel Joseph Ball on April 7.[5]


The suit Leavelle wore on November 24, 1963, the handcuffs used to restrain Lee Harvey Oswald and the grey fedora Jack Ruby wore when killing Oswald are now on display at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas, Texas.[citation needed]