J.D. Tippit is better known as the officer who was shot dead supposedly by Oswald
hours after he allegedly murdered John F. Kennedy
. Joined the Dallas Police Department
in 1952, Tippit was described by Chief Curry as being a "very dedicated officer". Tippit patrolled district No. 78 of Oak Cliff
during daylight hours, and drove a distinctively painted police car with a No. 10 displayed on each side. During daylight patrols of residential areas, police officers generally rode alone.
At 12.44pm on November 22nd 1963, a radio dispatcher on channel 1 ordered all downtown patrol cars to report to Elm and Houston, code 3 (emergency). At 12.45pm, the dispatcher ordered No. 78 (Tippit) to move into Central Oak Cliff Area. At 12.54, Tippit reported that he was in Oak Cliff in Lancaster and Eighth. The dispatcher ordered Tippit to be "...at large for any emergency that comes in." According to Chief Curry, Tippit was free to patrol the Oak Cliff area. Tippit must have heard the description of the man suspected of killing Kennedy; it was broadcast on channel 1 at 12.45pm, 12.48pm and 12.54pm. The suspect was described as a "white male, approximately 30, slender build, height 5 foot and ten inches, weight 165 pounds". A similar description was given at 12.45pm on channel 2.
At 1.15pm, Tippit, who was cruising east on 10th Street, passed the intersection at 10th and Patton, about eight blocks from where he was reported at 12.54pm. 100 feet past the intersection Tippet stopped a man walking east along the south side of Patton. The man approached the car, exchanging words with Tippit through the right window, who stepped out the car and began to walk round to the front of the car. The man produced a revolver and fired several shots, four of which struck Tippit, killing him instantly. The man then doubled back down Patton Avenue, reloading his revolver as he did so.
At least 12 people saw the man with the revolver in the vicinity of Tippits murder, or immediately after the shooting. By the evening of November 22nd, five of them had identified Oswald in a line-up, and a sixth did so the next day. Three others identified him from a photograph. A taxi-driver names Scoggins witnessed Tippit driving across the intersection of 10th and Patton, where his cab was parked. He witnessed Tippit pull up alongside a man dressed in a light-coloured jacket. He lost site of him, but heard four shots and saw Tippit fall. Scoggins hid behind his cab as the man holding a revolver came back and cut across the street, cutting through someones yard. Scoggins heard him say either "Poor Dumb Cop" or "Poor Damned Cop". The next day Scoggins identified Oswald as the man he had seen. He had not been shown pictures of Oswald by police and had not yet seen his face on television, however he stated that he may have seen Oswalds picture in a paper prior to the lineup.
Another witness, Domingo Benivides, witnessed the same thing, and saw Oswald throw his spent ammunition into a bush. Benivides was the first person to report Tippits killing, over the officers radio. He later told police that he would not be able to identify the killer, and so was not asked to attend an identity parade.
Other witnesses reported similar stories, with the exception of Helen Markham, who only heard three gunshots. She then witnessed him move at a "little trot" down towards Jefferson Street. Her description of him was "about 30 5"6', black hair, slender". Viewing a lineup parade at a Dallas Police station, Markham burst into tears when Oswald entered the room.
Evaluating Markhams description of the killer, the Warren Commission investigated allegations that Markham had described him as "short, little on the heavy side" and having somewhat "bushy" hair. A transcript of a phone-call in which she gave a description of the man who killed Tippit reaffirmed that Markham had indeed seen Oswald kill Tippit. Although at first she denied ever making the phone-call, she later admitted that she did, offering no explanation as to her denying it. "A little bit bushy" emerged to be a reference to the un-combed condition of Oswalds hair on his arrest.
On November 22nd, Barbera Jeanette Davis and Virginia Davis identified Oswald as the man who crossed their lawn.
When arrested, Oswald had in his possession a Smith and Wesson .38 Special Caliber Revolver. Four cartridges were found in a shrubbery by three witnesses, Benivides, Barberra Jeanette Davis and Virginia Davis. A unanimous testimony from various experts on weapons given to the Warren Report said that the spent cartridges had indeed come from the weapon Oswald was found in possession of. The FBI determined that George Rose and Co. were major distributors of this revolver. Records of Seaport Traders Inc., mail-order division of George Rose and Co., stated that on January 3rd, 1963 the company received a shipment of 99 guns from Empire Wholesale Sporting Goods, Ltd, Montreal. Among these guns was one which had a shortened barrel by George Rose and co. to the same specifications as the weapon Tippit was shot with (shortened barrel meant the bullets had an erratic course, matched with Oswalds weapon). An order for this weapon was received from A.J. Hidell, aged 28. He also ordered a holster and a box of ammunition.
Before leaving his home, Oswald is reported to have changed into a jacket, which he was not wearing on his arrest. Police found a light-coloured zipper matching the one described by witnesses near the murder scene.
Oswald was arrested at a near-by cinema and charged primarily with the murder of J.D. Tippit. Rumors circulated that he may be charged with the murder of John F. Kennedy, however when this was put to him by a journalist, Oswald stated that this was the first he had heard of the allegation. Oswald famously said: "I am just a patsy". On November the 24th, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald was gunned down in the basement of the police station in which he was being held by Jack Ruby. His murder was broadcast live on television.