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Tippit's Service Pistol


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The service pistol listed among Tippit's belongings handed in to Doughty of the CSS was a Smith & Wesson K-38 with a 4" barrel and brown wood handle serial # 138278. (DPD records box 9 folder 2 item 3).

This is the same pistol as listed in his personnel records (DPD records box 8 folder 4 item 1 page 7). This record is dated 9/26/52.

Would it be usual for a cop to have the same service pistol for 11 years?

Would it be unusual for a cop to own another pistol apart from their service pistol?

These questions become pertinent due to this piece of information:

Historic .357 S&W

Q: My grandfather recently gave me a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum. It has a 21/2-inch barrel. The barrel and cylinder show the serial number S1517XX. However, the yoke and frame are stamped with the number 607XX. When it was given to me, my grandfather told me the pistol once belonged to Officer J.D. Tippit of the Dallas Police Department, who was murdered by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963. The name "Tippit" and a large "T" are engraved on a Tyler Grip Adapter. I have some newspaper clippings substantiating its origins through my grandfather's gun shop. Can you give me some history about this pistol and a value? --J.S.M., Galveston, TX

http://www.gunsandammomag.com/values/0712/

There is a curious hand written note in the DPD files which states in full RA Davenport took gun and bullet from Tippit (box 7 folder 5 item 13).

Davenport filed an undated report saying he met the ambulance carrying Tippit en route to the scene of the crime and assisted in getting him into Emergency and that a "138 slug" was removed from the stomach for identification of caliber. This, along with the alleged murder weapon and other items, including Tippit's personal items, were handed over to Doughty. (box 1 folder 4 item 6). This document, btw, has the time of PRONOUNCEMENT of death overtyped to read 1:15.

Since Tippit's pistol was placed in the squad car by a witness, and removed by another to give chase, it was not there when the ambulance picked Tippit up. Is there any information on movements of the gun between being waved around by cops to TV cameras at the scene (after it was returned by the witness) and being turned over to Doughty?

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Greg,

Interesting. I read that article about the .357 earlier this morning. That was what brought me to pondering the issue side arm for the dept.

I will surely pass along any info I get and best of luck.

Mike

That's appreciated, Mike.

Here's a bit more on the subject I find a little curious - if not, downright bizarre...

From the testimony of Bud Owens:

Mr. OWENS...There was confusion there where the situation was. It was corrected and we went to the scene of the shooting.

Now, right there--here's where I'm not quite sure--
I don't know whether I was given the gun and all--but I believe I was given the gun and this was Tippit's gun and shells.

Mr. ELY. Do you recall who gave them to you?

Mr. OWENS. No; some officer, but I don't know who it was.

Mr. ELY. And how long did you have the gun and shells in your custody?

Mr. OWENS. Well, I had them at the hospital and we put them in a paper envelope, a large paper envelope with some more of his possessions.

Mr. ELY. Did you make any identifying marks on them?

Mr. OWENS. No; they were his city issued--his own gun.

Mr. ELY. And do you recall whom you gave them to eventually?

Mr. OWENS. No; I believe it was Barton--I'm not sure.
I couldn't say positively who I gave them to, to go put them in the property room. In fact, I don't even know whether I gave them to anybody. I might have taken them out to the Oak Cliff substation and put them in our property room--I don't know.

We know from Davenport that the person who ended up with Tippit's possessions was Doughty in the Crime Scene Section (CSS).

Mr. Owens ...so I went back to the scene of the shooting of Officer Tippit and another call had come and some of my men yelled to me that they had a suspect in the Texas Theatre, and everyone left there,
but nobody was left to help guard the scene except the crime lab man
, so I remained at the scene, and everybody else went to the Texas Theatre.

Mr. ELY.
Do you remember who the crime lab man was who was there?

Mr. OWENS,
At the time I thought it was Captain Doughty [spelling] D-o-u-g-h-t- y.
They finished up taking the pictures and I left the scene and went to Methodist Hospital where Officer Tippit had been taken,

Now whether it was Doughty with him at the scene or not, whoever it was, worked in the section that would need to obtain all the crime scene evidence... yet Owens left with much of that evidence and took it to the hospital... and from there... it eventually found it's way to Doughty in the CSS.

But here is the bit I really find bizarre...

Ely has just thanked Owens for his testimony. He has not asked if Owens has anything to add, and is about to dismiss him, when Owens suddenly blurts out...

"I don't know of anything else--as I say, I couldn't remember where they handed me the gun. I knew it was at the scene because
my wife said she saw it on television and I had his gun, and when I asked her about it she said it wasn't the suspect's gun she knew because she has been a policeman's wife long enough to know I wouldn't be handling a gun like that if it was the suspect's.

Nowhere in the testimony did Ely question if this gun was the suspects, and I have been unable to track down a transcript of Reiland's voice-over of the film to see if he in fact identified it that way. But did Owens really need his wife to assure him he had Tippit's gun, and not the actual murder weapon?

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I concur with Guns and Ammo re the S & W Model 27.

S & W made it in 3 1/2, 5, 6, and 8 3/8 inch models.

There was no Model 27 produced in 2 1/2 that I have ever seen, and I keep a pretty close eye on matters relating to the S & W Model 27.

The following is directed at some of the other questions and comments.

Police officers presently keep their guns 2 - 4 years, at which point they are given new ones and the used ones are refurbished and sold to dealers.

They are handled with agreements or programs that PDs have with Glock, SigArms, Heckler and Koch, etc.

I suspect that there were no such programs 45 years ago, so that an officer with a functional 11 year old handgun, particularly a revolver (which is a fairly mechanically simple weapon), would not be issued a new one.

I also anticipate that PDs, at that time, simply bought weapons when they needed them and that they didn't essentially rent them from Smith & Wesson, Colt, etc.

Some PDs and other law enforcement units permit their officers to use their own weapons, subject to certain guidelines (e.g. prohibition of calibers in excess of 40 W & W).

This is the exception and not the rule, but I have talked with officers who carry their own weapons, because they don't like Glocks, which are the prevailing "program" issue guns for law enforcement officers today.

I would like to see a picture of Tippit's gun.

It may not even be a Model 27.

I also find it odd that he had the grip safety added.

It is a peculiar feature for a revolver, but S & W made a model which had the grip safety.

However, it was a 38 Special revolver and not a 357 Magunum.

I will update this post with the model number.

Almost no revolvers of the 1960s era had safeties, because the 10 - 12 lb. trigger made an accidental discharge highly unlikely.

Now, S & W makes its revolvers with internal safety locks, which many wheelgun shooters find rather silly.

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I concur with Guns and Ammo re the S & W Model 27.

S & W made it in 3 1/2, 5, 6, and 8 3/8 inch models.

There was no Model 27 produced in 2 1/2 that I have ever seen, and I keep a pretty close eye on matters relating to the S & W Model 27.

The following is directed at some of the other questions and comments.

Police officers presently keep their guns 2 - 4 years, at which point they are given new ones and the used ones are refurbished and sold to dealers.

They are handled with agreements or programs that PDs have with Glock, SigArms, Heckler and Koch, etc.

I suspect that there were no such programs 45 years ago, so that an officer with a functional 11 year old handgun, particularly a revolver (which is a fairly mechanically simple weapon), would not be issued a new one.

I also anticipate that PDs, at that time, simply bought weapons when they needed them and that they didn't essentially rent them from Smith & Wesson, Colt, etc.

Some PDs and other law enforcement units permit their officers to use their own weapons, subject to certain guidelines (e.g. prohibition of calibers in excess of 40 W & W).

This is the exception and not the rule, but I have talked with officers who carry their own weapons, because they don't like Glocks, which are the prevailing "program" issue guns for law enforcement officers today.

I would like to see a picture of Tippit's gun.

It may not even be a Model 27.

I also find it odd that he had the grip safety added.

It is a peculiar feature for a revolver, but S & W made a model which had the grip safety.

However, it was a 38 Special revolver and not a 357 Magunum.

I will update this post with the model number.

Almost no revolvers of the 1960s era had safeties, because the 10 - 12 lb. trigger made an accidental discharge highly unlikely.

Now, S & W makes its revolvers with internal safety locks, which many wheelgun shooters find rather silly.

when I was a rookie Detroit Cop in 1969 I was issued a Colt Official Police .38 revolver that had been in dept inventory for years. I eventually saved enough money to buy a personal Magnum which I could legally carry

The Tyler T Grip adaptor was not a safety device-it fit between the grip panels on the front of the frame to fit the end user better.

We had a number of negligent discharges annually but I never saw or heard of a genuine accidental discharge

Edited by Evan Marshall
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I concur with Guns and Ammo re the S & W Model 27.

S & W made it in 3 1/2, 5, 6, and 8 3/8 inch models.

There was no Model 27 produced in 2 1/2 that I have ever seen, and I keep a pretty close eye on matters relating to the S & W Model 27.

The following is directed at some of the other questions and comments.

Police officers presently keep their guns 2 - 4 years, at which point they are given new ones and the used ones are refurbished and sold to dealers.

They are handled with agreements or programs that PDs have with Glock, SigArms, Heckler and Koch, etc.

I suspect that there were no such programs 45 years ago, so that an officer with a functional 11 year old handgun, particularly a revolver (which is a fairly mechanically simple weapon), would not be issued a new one.

I also anticipate that PDs, at that time, simply bought weapons when they needed them and that they didn't essentially rent them from Smith & Wesson, Colt, etc.

Some PDs and other law enforcement units permit their officers to use their own weapons, subject to certain guidelines (e.g. prohibition of calibers in excess of 40 W & W).

This is the exception and not the rule, but I have talked with officers who carry their own weapons, because they don't like Glocks, which are the prevailing "program" issue guns for law enforcement officers today.

I would like to see a picture of Tippit's gun.

It may not even be a Model 27.

I also find it odd that he had the grip safety added.

It is a peculiar feature for a revolver, but S & W made a model which had the grip safety.

However, it was a 38 Special revolver and not a 357 Magunum.

I will update this post with the model number.

Almost no revolvers of the 1960s era had safeties, because the 10 - 12 lb. trigger made an accidental discharge highly unlikely.

Now, S & W makes its revolvers with internal safety locks, which many wheelgun shooters find rather silly.

when I was a rookie Detroit Cop in 1969 I was issued a Colt Official Police .38 revolver that had been in dept inventory for years. I eventually saved enough money to buy a personal Magnum which I could legally carry

The Tyler T Grip adaptor was not a safety device-it fit between the grip panels on the front of the frame to fit the end user better.

We had a number of negligent discharges annually but I never saw or heard of a genuine accidental discharge

I see.

I thought that it was the rather odd grip safety which was embedded into the rear of the grip-frame.

What you are talking about is a finger-grooved grip extension which is affixed to the interior of the grip-frame, right?

BTW, the Smith & Wesson model with the integral grip-safety is the Model 40, which is being reprised this year by S & W as a "classic" gun.

I am not sure that Tippit actually carried a Model 27 if it was a 4 inch gun.

The S & W Model 28, aka the Highway Patrolman, was also offered in 4".

In either event, carrying the Model 27 or 28 would be a chore due to their weight.

They are part of the S & W "N frame" models, which was (before the introduction of the 500 S & W and 460 rounds a few years ago) its heavies frame.

The Model 15 also was a 357 Magnum S & W 4" revolver, but it was a K-frame gun, which made it considerably lighter than the Models 27 or 28.

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Thanks Christopher and Evan. I'm no expert, but since his documented sidearm was called a K-38, it seems this was the lighter Model 15.

What I'm really interested in is establishing the likelihood of Tippit not only owning two weapons, but in having both while on duty.

It seems to me there are two weapons discussed in the records - one taken from Tippit at the hospital by Davenport, and a second handled - along with a wallet - by a very forgetful Owens at the scene of the murder and taken by him to either the Property Room at HQ or the Property Room at the Oak Cliff Substation.

If Tippit wasn't in possession of two weapons, then the possibility exists that the gun handled by Owens was in fact the murder weapon he was so keen to deny was the murder weapon under oath (hell, it couldn't have been the murder weapon - after all, his wife assured him it wasn't!)

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Thanks Christopher and Evan. I'm no expert, but since his documented sidearm was called a K-38, it seems this was the lighter Model 15.

What I'm really interested in is establishing the likelihood of Tippit not only owning two weapons, but in having both while on duty.

It seems to me there are two weapons discussed in the records - one taken from Tippit at the hospital by Davenport, and a second handled - along with a wallet - by a very forgetful Owens at the scene of the murder and taken by him to either the Property Room at HQ or the Property Room at the Oak Cliff Substation.

If Tippit wasn't in possession of two weapons, then the possibility exists that the gun handled by Owens was in fact the murder weapon he was so keen to deny was the murder weapon under oath (hell, it couldn't have been the murder weapon - after all, his wife assured him it wasn't!)

I carried a 2nd gun daily for 20 yrs and still carry two today. Also carried an N Frames in both uniform and plain clothes until I went to SWAT and was issued a 9MM pistol.

The biggest problem in this whole event seems to be that the securing of crime scenes and processing them correctly was an unknown art in Dallas. If both shootings had been processed and investigated like Homicides we would know alot more today. I did two tours with Detroit Homicide and have rounded up more witnesses in the murder of a drug dealer than Dallas PD did in both.

Tippit's murder puzzles me as cop killings in Detroit were always worked thoroughly and tons of "evidence" was always collected.

The problem is that it wasn't done right at either the TBD or at Tippit's murder scene and once you've lost control of the scene you're screwed.

evan marshall

www.stoppingpower.net

Edited by Evan Marshall
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Thanks Christopher and Evan. I'm no expert, but since his documented sidearm was called a K-38, it seems this was the lighter Model 15.

What I'm really interested in is establishing the likelihood of Tippit not only owning two weapons, but in having both while on duty.

It seems to me there are two weapons discussed in the records - one taken from Tippit at the hospital by Davenport, and a second handled - along with a wallet - by a very forgetful Owens at the scene of the murder and taken by him to either the Property Room at HQ or the Property Room at the Oak Cliff Substation.

If Tippit wasn't in possession of two weapons, then the possibility exists that the gun handled by Owens was in fact the murder weapon he was so keen to deny was the murder weapon under oath (hell, it couldn't have been the murder weapon - after all, his wife assured him it wasn't!)

I carried a 2nd gun daily for 20 yrs and still carry two today. Also carried an N Frames in both uniform and plain clothes until I went to SWAT and was issued a 9MM pistol.

The biggest problem in this whole event seems to be that the securing of crime scenes and processing them correctly was an unknown art in Dallas. If both shootings had been processed and investigated like Homicides we would know alot more today. I did two tours with Detroit Homicide and have rounded up more witnesses in the murder of a drug dealer than Dallas PD did in both.

Tippit's murder puzzles me as cop killings in Detroit were always worked thoroughly and tons of "evidence" was always collected.

The problem is that it wasn't done right at either the TBD or at Tippit's murder scene and once you've lost control of the scene you're screwed.

evan marshall

www.stoppingpower.net

Evan,

Your experience in developing crime scene evidence is appreciated.

But don't you think after botching things two, three, four times, it's apparent that the DPD, DA, et al, intentionall botched things up?

Also, would you consider going over the evidence available today, if a grand jury would review it?

Thanks for your imput.

Bill Kelly

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Thanks Christopher and Evan. I'm no expert, but since his documented sidearm was called a K-38, it seems this was the lighter Model 15.

What I'm really interested in is establishing the likelihood of Tippit not only owning two weapons, but in having both while on duty.

It seems to me there are two weapons discussed in the records - one taken from Tippit at the hospital by Davenport, and a second handled - along with a wallet - by a very forgetful Owens at the scene of the murder and taken by him to either the Property Room at HQ or the Property Room at the Oak Cliff Substation.

If Tippit wasn't in possession of two weapons, then the possibility exists that the gun handled by Owens was in fact the murder weapon he was so keen to deny was the murder weapon under oath (hell, it couldn't have been the murder weapon - after all, his wife assured him it wasn't!)

I carried a 2nd gun daily for 20 yrs and still carry two today. Also carried an N Frames in both uniform and plain clothes until I went to SWAT and was issued a 9MM pistol.

The biggest problem in this whole event seems to be that the securing of crime scenes and processing them correctly was an unknown art in Dallas. If both shootings had been processed and investigated like Homicides we would know alot more today. I did two tours with Detroit Homicide and have rounded up more witnesses in the murder of a drug dealer than Dallas PD did in both.

Tippit's murder puzzles me as cop killings in Detroit were always worked thoroughly and tons of "evidence" was always collected.

The problem is that it wasn't done right at either the TBD or at Tippit's murder scene and once you've lost control of the scene you're screwed.

evan marshall

www.stoppingpower.net

Evan,

Your experience in developing crime scene evidence is appreciated.

But don't you think after botching things two, three, four times, it's apparent that the DPD, DA, et al, intentionall botched things up?

Also, would you consider going over the evidence available today, if a grand jury would review it?

Thanks for your imput.

Bill Kelly

I don't know about the initial work, but I agree that subsquent "investigations" had an agenda.

Have to appreciate the enormity of what happened on 11-22-63.

During the Republician Convention in Detroit I was involved in keeping traffic moving along the back of Cobo Hall. Many of my young coppers were excited to see the various Canitdates. I reminded them we were there to keep an eye on those is close proximity to the cantidates not the cantidates.

Not having been there (Dalls) I have no idea how overwhelmed people where by what happened.

I'd be happy to look at the evidence but I'm not sure there is anything super significant that we can prove a chain of custody on.

I may be outside of the US soon for a longish period-trying to find a job inside the US but there isn't alot of market for my sort of work.

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Greg,

From the testimony of Bud Owens:

Mr. OWENS...There was confusion there where the situation was. It was corrected and we went to the scene of the shooting.

Now, right there--here's where I'm not quite sure--
I don't know whether I was given the gun and all--but I believe I was given the gun and this was Tippit's gun and shells.

Mr. ELY. Do you recall who gave them to you?

Mr. OWENS. No; some officer, but I don't know who it was.

I happened to be reading through the DPD tape transcript of Channel 1.

At the 2:00 PM mark, Officer 22 (Leonard L. Hill) says: 22: "In case..comes up, regarding officer Tippit's pistol; I gave it to Sergeant Owens."

Steve Thomas
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