Darrell C. Tomlinson was the original discoverer of that magic bullet, CE
399. It came from a stretcher, but which stretcher?
Just to give you a bit of background - Connally's stretcher's appearance
was described by the orderly named Mr. "R. J." Jimison, who helped move Connally
from the stretcher to the operating table. In order to follow the journey of Connally's
stretcher we need to pick up in the middle of Jimison's testimony where this becomes the
focal point. This segment comes from the Warren Commission Hearings, Vol. 6 p. 126-128.
Specter: You helped them take Governor Connally and put him on the
Jimison: I did.
Specter: And what then was done with the stretcher that he was on?
Jimison: Well, the stretcher at that time was moved back from the
table, of course, because they had to make room for the doctors to get up close to the
table, which was back just a'ways and when I got free - whether it was Miss Wester or Mrs.
Ross there - they pushed it back a little further, but they didn't get quite to the
elevator with it; I came along and pushed it onto the elevator myself and loaded it on and
pushed the door closed.
Specter: What was on the stretcher at that time?
Jimison: I noticed nothing more than a little flat mattress and two
sheets as usual.
Specter: And what was the position of the sheets?
Jimison: Of course, them sheets was, of course, as usual, flat out on
Specter: Had they been rolled up?
Jimison: More or less, not rolled, which, yes, usually they is, the
mattress and sheets are all just throwed, one of them about halfway, it would be just
throwed about halfway.
Time out. Jimison has already contradicted himself under Specter's
questioning. This is hardly an unusual occurrence when Specter is at the helm.... First he
says flat, then rolled up. In the end it won't make any difference - but it's just yet
another example of how eager people seemed to try to say the right thing to please
Specter. What's really interesting is that Specter needs to establish that the
sheets were not flat, but rolled up, to have any even questionable case for the
bullet having been found on Connally's stretcher later. Jimison's testimony was taken the
day after Tomlinson's critical testimony so Specter was quite clear what he
needed to establish. Not surprisingly, Jimison's interview is printed just before
Tomlinson's interview in the appendices. See the pattern here? Okay - back in. A lawyer
might call the following terribly leading questions...
Specter: Were the sheets flat or just turned over?
Jimison: Well, just turned over.
Specter: Were they crumpled up in any way?
Jimison: Well, there was a possibility it was strictly - a tragic day.
Specter: It was what?
Jimison: It was a tragic day.
Specter: Right, and everybody was a little shook up on account of it?
Jimison: We didn't look too close.
Specter: Was there anything else on the stretcher?
Jimison: I never noticed anything else at all.
Again - Specter has a predetermined need to find rolled up bloody sheets
and either a few surgical instruments and a sterile pack (which would describe what
Tomlinson remembered being on the stretcher where the bullet was found), or a 1-inch roll
of tape, small packets of hypodermic needles and alcohol sponges (said to be on Connally's
stretcher by Nurse Jane Wester, interviewed by Specter also on the previous day). Without
these he'll have no case for CE 399 being associated with Connally at all. So, as he so
often does when he runs out of evidence, Specter now asks his witness to speculate:
Here's where the testimony gets critical. This will correspond to
Tomlinson's valuable testimony.
Specter: What did you do with the stretcher then, you said?
Jimison: Pushed it on the rear elevator, which goes downstairs.
Specter: Is there any other elevator which goes downstairs to the
Jimison: Not close in the emergency area - that's the only one.
Specter: What was the purpose for your putting it on that elevator?
Jimison: It goes back to emergency because it can be cleaned up there
and remade and put in use again.
Specter: Is it customarily your job to put it back on the elevator?
Jimison: Yes; it is.
Specter: Did you ever take it down and put it in order yourself?
Jimison: No, sir; we never carry it down ourselves. The fact is - the
purpose is - we have enough to do up there, and we have men up there to take care of that.
Specter: Somebody else is supposed to take the elevator up there? Is
Jimison: One of them - we put it on the elevator, then it becomes the
responsibility of the emergency room.
Specter: Was there any other stretcher placed on that elevator later
Jimison: Not during my shift.
Specter: Are you the only man who would put the stretcher on the
elevator if there were one?
Jimison: No, I is not, but might near - I could might near see of
anybody - from where the elevator sits from where the halls were - I could might near see
all of the stretchers put on there.
Specter: If a stretcher was put on there it would have to be in your
Jimison: I would have had to be hid where I wouldn't be able to see
Specter: What time did you put the stretcher from Governor Connally on
Jimison: I'm not too sure I know of the time. I really don't know
exactly the time.
Specter: Well, about how long after he was taken into the operating
room, did you?
Jimison: It was lesser than 10 minutes before or after.
Specter: What time did you get off that day?
Specter: And you say there was no other stretcher placed on that
elevator from the time you put Governor Connally's stretcher on until the end of the day?
Jimison: Until the end of my shift. You see, that's the emergency -
from the emergency that we had from that time that he was brought up until I was relieved
from duty that afternoon.
Specter: Did you notice any bullets on the stretcher?
Jimison: I never noticed any at all.
Specter: Did I sit down and talk with you for a few minutes before the
court reporter came in to take this all down here today?
Specter: And have I asked you questions and have you given me answers
just like in our short discussion before this deposition started?
Jimison: (no response.)
Specter: Did you and I talk about the same things we have been talking
about since the court reporter came in?
Specter: Have you ever been talked to by any other person from the
Specter: Yes, I have.
Specter: And who was that?
Jimison: I don't remember his name, but shortly after that happened -
I don't know, as I say, it was the Federal Government.
Specter: What branch was he from?
Jimison: I thought he was from the Secret Service.
Specter: How many times did you talk to somebody from the Secret
Jimison: Well, I talked to him once; he just talked to me once.
Specter: And what about?
Jimison: The same thing.
Specter: And did you ever talk to anybody else about this fact?
Specter: Do you have anything to add, that you think might be helpful
Jimison: Well, no, because the fact is - because that's pretty well
covered - just, I actually want to give facts about something I know something about, and
during the time I know something about, and what actually happened from the time that
carriage was picked up until I got off from duty. This ain't actually - not in it, but due
to this - this is - what I'm fixing to say is off of the book - I couldn't see after
President Kennedy because I didn't - I never did get up to the floor - so I didn't see
him. I am glad if was [sic] any kind of help, Mr. Specter.
Specter: You have been, Jimison, and we appreciate your coming in and
helping us a lot.
The relevant points to note from the above are these:
Connally's stretcher and only Connally's stretcher was put on the elevator
this afternoon. The sheets on it were flat - until Specter started asking questions. Then
they might have been bunched up, and they might have had small objects in with them. No
bullet of course was seen.
Just to preface this ahead of time, because it gets confusing - Tomlinson
will ultimately refer to stretchers "A" and "B". "A" is the
stretcher he takes off the elevator, "B" is a stretcher that has been on the
ground floor there some time already. Specter wants Tomlinson to acknowledge "A"
to be Connally's stretcher and keeps emphasizing that "A" is the one that came
off the elevator and not stretcher "B", which was already there.
Let's begin. Tomlinson's entire testimony from start to finish
- under oath, taken March 20, 1964 - WCH V 6, pp. 128 to the end.
The testimony of Darrell C. Tomlinson was taken on March 20, 1964, at Parkland Memorial
Hospital, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Arlen Specter, assistant counsel for the President's
Specter: Mr. Tomlinson, this is Miss Oliver, and she is the court
reporter. Will you stand up and hold up your right hand and take the oath, please? Do you
solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you
Tomlinson: I do.
Specter: Would you state your full name, for the record?
Tomlinson: Darrell Carlisle Tomlinson
Specter: Mr. Tomlinson, the purpose of this deposition proceeding is
to take your deposition in connection with an inquiry made by the President's Commission
in connection with the Assassination of President Kennedy to determine from you all the
facts, if any, which you know concerning the events surrounding the assassination of
President Kennedy and any treatment which was given at Parkland Memorial Hospital to
either President Kennedy or Governor Connally, or anything that happened to any physical
objects connected with either one of those men. First of all, did you receive a letter
advising you that the Commission was interested in having one of its staff lawyers take
your deposition concerning this matter?
Specter: And did that letter include in it a copy of the Executive
order creating the Commission?
Specter: And a copy of the congressional resolution concerning the
creation of the President's Commission?
Specter: And are you willing today for me to ask you some questions
about what you observed or know about this matter?
Tomlinson: Yes, sir.
Specter: And it is satisfactory with you to proceed today rather than
to have 3 days from the time you got the letter, which was yesterday?
Tomlinson: It's immaterial.
Specter: It's immaterial to you?
Tomlinson: It's immaterial - it's at your convenience.
Specter: That's fine. We appreciate that, Mr. Tomlinson. The reason
is, that you have the right to a 3-day notice, but if it doesn't matter to you, then we
would like to go ahead and take your information today.
Specter: We call that a waiver under the law, if it is all right with
you for us to talk with you today, then I want to go ahead and do that; is that all right?
Specter: Well, where are you employed, Mr. Tomlinson?
Tomlinson: Parkland Hospital.
Specter: And what is your capacity?
Tomlinson: I am classed as the senior engineer.
Specter: And what duties are involved in general?
Tomlinson: I'm in charge of the powerplant here at the hospital, which
takes care of the heating and air-conditioning services for the building.
Specter: Will you describe the general physical layout relating to the
emergency area and how you get from the emergency area, say, to the second floor emergency
operating rooms of Parkland Memorial Hospital?
Tomlinson: You mean just the general lay?
Specter: Yes, sir; please.
Tomlinson: Well, we have one elevator that goes from the basement to
the third floor, that's what we call the emergency elevator. It's in the south section of
the hospital and that would be your most direct route to go from the ground floor, which
emergency is on, to the operating rooms on two.
Specter: Now, did you have anything to do with that elevator on
November 22, sometime around the noon hour?
Specter: And what did you have to do with that elevator?
Tomlinson: Well, we received a call in the engineer's office, the
chief engineer's office, and he requested someone to operate the elevator.
Specter: Was there any problem with the elevator with respect to a
mechanical difficulty of any sort?
Tomlinson: No, sir; it was an ordinary type elevator, and if it isn't
keyed off it will stop every time somebody pushes a button, and they preferred it to go
only to the second floor and to the ground floor unless otherwise instructed by the
Specter: So, what were you to do with this elevator?
Tomlinson: Key it off the ground, between ground and second floor.
Specter: So that you would operate it in that way?
Tomlinson: Yes; make a manual operation out of it.
Specter: When you came upon that elevator, what time was it, to the
best of your recollection?
Tomlinson: It was around 1 o'clock.
Specter: Was there anything on the elevator at that time?
Tomlinson: There was one stretcher.
Specter: And describe the appearance of that stretcher, if you will,
Remember - Connally's stretcher was left on the elevator and Jimison was
SURE no other stretcher was put on the elevator during his shift.
So Tomlinson's description of Connally's stretcher matches the first
description Jimison gave of same.
Specter: What, if anything, did you do with that stretcher?
Tomlinson: I took it off of the elevator and put it over against the
Specter: On what floor?
Tomlinson: The ground floor.
Specter: Was there any other stretcher in that area at that time?
Tomlinson: There was a stretcher about 2 feet from the wall already
there. (Indicating on drawing to which the witness referred.)
Specter: Now, you have just pointed to a drawing which you have made
of this situation, have you not, while we were talking a few minutes before the court
reporter started to take down your testimony?
Tomlinson: Yes, sir.
Specter: Now, would you mark in ink with my pen the stretcher which
you pushed off of the elevator?
Tomlinson: I think that it was this one right there (indicating).
Specter: Will you draw the outline of it in ink and mark an
"A" right in the center of that? (Witness complied with request of Counsel
Specter.) Now, would you mark in ink the position of the stretcher which was already on
the first floor?
Tomlinson: This was the ground floor.
Specter: Pardon me, on the ground floor? Is there a different
designation for the first floor?
Specter: Where is the first floor?
Tomlinson: One above the ground. We have basement, ground, first,
second, and third on that elevator.
Specter: What floor was Governor Connally take to, if you know?
Tomlinson: He was on two, he was in the operating rooms up on two.
That's our surgical suites up there.
Specter: And what level is the emergency entrance of the hospital on?
Tomlinson: Well, it's the ground floor - it's there at the back of the
hospital, you see, it's built on the incline there.
Specter: And the elevator which you found in this area was on the
Tomlinson: The elevator?
Specter: The stretcher.
Specter: Will you mark with a "B" the stretcher which was
present at the time you pushed stretcher "A" off of the elevator?
Tomlinson: (Witness complied with the request of Counsel Specter.) I
believe that's it.
Specter: Would you draw in ink there the outline of that room in a
Tomlinson: Well, I really don't know.
Specter: And would you mark that with the letter "C"?
(Witness complied with request of Counsel Specter.) That's fine. What happened when that
gentleman came to use the men's room?
Tomlinson: Well, he pushed the stretcher out from the wall to get in,
and then when he came out he just walked off and didn't push the stretcher back up against
the wall, so I pushed it out of the way where we would have clear area in front of the
Specter: And where did you push it to?
Tomlinson: I pushed it back up against the wall.
Specter: What, if anything, happened then?
Tomlinson: I bumped the wall and a spent cartridge or bullet rolled
out that apparently had been lodged under the edge of the mat.
Specter: And that was from which stretcher?
Tomlinson: I believe that it was "B".
"B" WAS NOT
Specter: And what was on "B", if you recall; if anything?
Tomlinson: Well, at one end they had one or two sheets rolled up; I
didn't examine them. They were bloody. They were rolled up on the east end of it and,
there were a few surgical instruments on the opposite end and a sterile pack or so.
Specter once again has a problem. The only thing Nurse Wester described as
being on Connally's stretcher last she saw it and as best as she could remember was a
1" roll of tape, small packets of hypodermic needles and alcohol sponges. So again,
not getting the data Specter needs, see how he starts using those leading questions again.
They don't work, much to Specter's frustration.
Specter is frustrated. He tries to establish that it was definitely
"A" that came off the elevator and thus had to be Connally's, and then tries to
get Tomlinson, unsuccessfully, to identify "A" as the stretcher on which the
bullet was found. And meanwhile Tomlinson, under oath, is trying to be as absolutely
honest as he can.
Specter: Now, Mr. Tomlinson, are you sure that it was stretcher
"A: that you took out of the elevator and not stretcher "B"?
Tomlinson: Well, really, I can't be positive, just to be perfectly
honest about it, I can't be positive, because I really didn't pay that much attention to
it. The stretcher was on the elevator and I pushed it off of there and I believe we made
one or two calls up before I straightened out the stretcher up against the wall.
Specter: When you say "one or two calls," what do you mean
Tomlinson: Went to pick up the technician from the second floor to
bring him down to the ground floor to get blood.
Specter: And when you say before you straightened the stretcher up,
what do you mean by that?
Tomlinson: Well, we just rolled them out of the way where we had some
room on the elevator - that's a small elevator.
Specter: So, when you rolled them out of the elevator, when you rolled
the stretcher out of the elevator, did you place it against the wall at that time?
Ouch! Yet more disgruntlement for Specter because the stretcher that was
against the wall was stretcher "B", on which the bullet was found after the
doctor or intern pushed it AWAY from the wall where it was in order to enter the men's
room. Poor Specter! What does he do now? Ask some general questions, merging for a minute
the two stretchers.
Specter: Were both of these stretchers constructed the same way?
Tomlinson: Similar - yes.
Specter: Will you describe the appearance of the stretcher with
reference to what it was made of and how many shelves it had, and that sort of thing?
Tomlinson: Well, it's made of tubed steel with a flat iron frame on
the top where you lay the patient and it has one shelf down between the four wheels.
Specter: Does it have any bumpers on it?
Tomlinson: Yes, and it has rubber bumpers.
Specter: Does it have any rail to keep the patient on?
Tomlinson: Yes; they have the rails on the side made of tubed steel.
The majority of them have those.
Specter: Now, just before we started this deposition, before I placed
you under oath and before the court reporter started to take down my questions and your
answers, you and I had a brief talk, did we not?
Specter: And we discussed in a general way the information which you
have testified about, did we not?
Tomlinson: Yes, sir.
Specter: And at the time we started our discussion, it was your
recollection at that point that the bullet came off of stretcher A, was it not?
MAJOR ouch again for Specter. Trying to distract his witness, trying to
remind him of other conversations and gently trying to get Tomlinson to slip up and
identify the stretcher with the bullet found on it as A, Connally's stretcher, he
nonetheless fails in Tomlinson's persistence on this fact. The bullet was found on B. B,
Specter: Pardon me, stretcher B, but it was stretcher A that you took
off of the elevator.
Tomlinson: I believe that's right.
Specter: But there is no question but that at the time we started our
discussion a few minutes before the court reporter started to take it down, that your best
recollection was that it was stretcher A which came off of the elevator?
Watch Specter kick into high gear now. He has a serious problem, and will
pull out all stops trying to fix it.
Specter: Have you been interviewed about this matter by any other
Specter: Who interviewed you about it?
Tomlinson: I don't remember the name of either one of them, but one
was the FBI man and one was the Secret Service man.
Specter: How many times did the FBI interview you?
Specter: How many times did the Secret Service interview you?
Specter: When did the FBI interview you?
Tomlinson: I believe they were the first to do it.
Specter: Approximately when was that?
Tomlinson: I think that was the latter part of November.
Specter: And when did the Secret Service interview you?
Tomlinson: Approximately a week later, the first part of December.
Specter: Now, do you recollect what the FBI man asked you about?
Tomlinson: Just about where I found the bullet.
Specter: did he ask you about these stretchers?
Tomlinson: Well, he asked me about the stretchers, yes, just about the
same thing we've gone over here.
Specter: What did the Secret Service man ask you about?
Tomlinson: Approximately the same thing, only, we've gone into more
Specter: What did you tell the Secret Service man about which
stretcher you took off of the elevator?
Tomlinson: I told him that I was not sure, and I am not - I'm not sure
of it, but as I said, I would be going against the oath which I took a while ago, because
I am definitely not sure.
Specter: Do you remember if you told the Secret Service man which
stretcher you thought you took off of the elevator?
Tomlinson: Well, we talked about taking a stretcher off of the elvator
[sic], but then when it comes down on an oath, I wouldn't say for sure, I really don't
Specter: And do you recollect whether or not you told the Secret
Service man which stretcher you took off of the elevator?
Tomlinson: What do you mean?
Specter: You say you can't really take an oath today to be sure
whether it was stretcher A or stretcher B that you took off the elevator?
Tomlinson: Well, today or any other day, I'm just not sure of it,
whether it was A or B that I took off.
Of course, A matches the description of the stretcher as first described
by Jimison. B was covered with surgical instruments - which Jimison nor Nurse Wester ever
recalled being present on Connally's stretcher.
Specter: Well, has your recollection always been the same about the
situation, that is, today, and when you talked to the Secret Service man and when you
talked to the FBI man?
Tomlinson: Yes; I told him that I wasn't sure.
Specter: So, what you have told the Secret Service man was just about
the same thing as you have told me today?
Tomlinson: Yes, sir.
Specter: When I first started to ask you about this, Mr. Tomlinson,
you initially identified stretcher A as the one which came off of the elevator car?
Tomlinson: Yes; I think it's just like that.
Specter: And, then, when -
Tomlinson: (interrupting). Here's the deal - I rolled that thing off,
we got a call, and went to second floor, picked the man up and brought him down. He went
on over across, to clear out of the emergency area, but across from it, and picked up two
pints of, I believe it was, blood. He told me to hold for him, he had to get right back to
the operating room, so I held, and the minute he hit there, we took off for the second
floor and I cam back to the ground. Now, I don't know how many people went through that -
I don't know how many people hit them - I don't know anything about what could have
happened to them in between the time I was gone, and I made several trips before I
discovered the bullet on the end of it there.
Specter: You think, then that this could have been either, you took
out of the elevator as you sit here at the moment, or you just can't be sure?
Tomlinson: It could be, but I can't be positive or positively sure. I
think it was A, but I'm not sure.
Specter: That you took off of the elevator?
Watch Specter try to lay a trap for Tomlinson, and watch it backfire in
Specter: Now, before I started to ask you question under oath, which
have been taken down here, I told you, did I not, that the Secret Service man wrote a
report where he said that the bullet was found on the stretcher which you took off of the
elevator - I called that to your attention, didn't I?
Tomlinson: Yes; you told me that.
Specter: Now, after I tell you that, does that have any effect on
refreshing your recollection of what you told the Secret Service man?
Tomlinson: No; it really doesn't - it really doesn't.
Specter: So, would it be a fair summary to say that when I first
started to talk to you about it, your first view was that the stretcher you took off of
the elevator was stretcher A, and then I told you that the Secret Service man said it was
- that you had said the stretcher you took off of the elevator was the one that you found
the bullet off, and when we talked about the whole matter and talked over the entire
situation, you really can't be completely sure about which stretcher you took off of the
elevator, because you didn't push the stretcher that you took off of the elevator right
against the wall at first?
Tomlinson: That's right.
Specter: And, there was a lot of confusion that day, which is what you
told me before?
Tomlinson: Absolutely. And now, honestly, I don't remember telling him
definitely - I know we talked about it, and I told him that it could have been. Now, he
might have drawed [sic] his own conclusion on that.
Specter: You told the Secret Service agent that you didn't know
Tomlinson: (interrupting). He asked me if it could have been brought
down from the second floor.
Specter: You got the stretcher from where the bullet came from,
whether it was brought down from the second floor?
OBJECTION! "from where the bullet came from"? It was never
established that there ever was a bullet on the second floor. It
doesn't appear in the hospital at all until Tomlinson's discovery of it on Stretcher B.
And remember - the FBI was quite clear in telling witnesses that lying to
a Federal officer was a Federal offense - that statement alone kept good honest people
from saying much for fear of mistakenly contradicting themselves and waking up in jail. I
believe this is what holds Tomlinson back from being more definite. Not remembering what
he told them, he is hesitant to make any blanket, 100% statements. But notice he never
says "I think it was B that came off the elevator" - whenever he offers an
opinion, it has consistently been A. He allows the possibility of B but thinks it
Specter: That's all right. I understand exactly what you are saying
and I appreciate it and I really just want to get your best recollection. We understand it
isn't easy to remember all that went on, on a day like November 22d, and that a man's
recollection is not perfect like every other part of a a man, but I want you to tell me
just what you remember, and that's the best you can do today, and I appreciate that, and
so does the President's Commission, and that's all we can ask a man.
Tomlinson: Yes, I'm going to tell you all I can, and I'm not going to
tell you something I can't lay down and sleep at night with either.
Sounds like Tomlinson sees what's going on and refuses to tell them what
they want to hear and insists on telling only the truth as he knows it. Would there were
more people like that in the world!
Specter: Do you know where the stretcher came form that you found on
Tomlinson: No, sir; I do not. It could have come from two, it could
have come from three, it could have come from some other place.
Specter: You didn't see anybody put it there?
Tomlinson: No, sire - it was on the elevator when I got there. There
wasn't anyone on the elevator when I got there. There wasn't anyone on the elevator at the
time when I keyed it off.
Specter: And when you say "keyed it off," you mean?
Tomlinson: Put it in manual operation.
Specter: Mr. Tomlinson, does it make any difference to you whether you
sign this deposition at the end or not?
Specter: We very much appreciate your coming, Mr. Tomlinson. Thank you
very much. Those are all the questions I have.
Tomlinson: All right. Thank you.
Specter: Off the record.
(Discussion between counsel and the witness Tomlinson regarding a proposed exhibit.)
On the record. Now that the deposition of Mr. Tomlinson has been concluded, I am having
the paper marked as Tomlinson Exhibit No. 2. (Instrument marked by the reporter as
Tomlinson Exhibit No.2, for identification.) May the record show that Mr. Tomlinson is
present, and will you identify this paper marked as Tomlinson Exhibit No. 2 as the one
which contains the diagram of the emergency room and the letters A and B of the stretchers
we have been discussing?
Tomlinson: That's just the elevator lobby in emergency.
Specter: And this is the diagram which you drew for us?
Specter: That's all, and thank you very much.
And just think, Latimer has devoted much of his life showing how this
bullet could have caused seven wounds with nary a scratch, when in fact there is nothing
to link this bullet to Connally (or Kennedy for that matter) at.
The fact that the bullet can be linked to Oswald's gun makes it
look all the more like a plant.
And Seth Kantor saw Jack Ruby in Parkland Hospital that day.