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The Tippit Bullets


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FIREARMS INDENTIFICATION

The Firearms discipline examines and compares bullets, cartridge cases, and shotgun shells to determine if they were fired from a particular firearm.  This work is part of the forensic discipline known as Firearms Identification. In addition, scientists examined firearms to determine if the weapon functions properly and obliterated serial numbers can be restored.
Firearms Identification is not ballistics, which is the study of projectiles such as bullets in motion.

What Firearms Examiners Look For
To match a bullet to a particular firearm the examiner looks for two criteria using comparison microscopy:  class characteristics and individual characteristics.

 

Class characteristics are the rifling specifications of the barrel from which the bullet was fired.  These include caliber, number of lands and grooves, direction of twist of the lands and grooves, and widths of the lands and grooves.  If an evidence bullet and test bullets fired from a suspect firearm have the same class characteristics, the firearm examiner can conclude that the evidence bullet could have been fired from the suspect firearm.
 

Individual characteristics are marks unique to that particular firearm barrel.  In a barrel, the individual characteristics are produced by the random imperfections and irregularities of the tool or tools used to produce the lands and grooves, and by use, corrosion, or damage.  If an evidence bullet has the same class characteristics and matching individual characteristics as test bullets fired from a suspect firearm, the firearm examiner can conclude that the bullet was fired from the suspect firearm.
 

https://ncdoj.gov/crime-lab/firearms-and-tool-mark/
 

When the FBI examined the alleged murder weapon, CE 143, they found that the handgun had been rechambered to fire .38 special bullets. But the weapon had not been rebarreled, so the smaller .38 special rounds would in effect "wobble" as they exited the barrel. This caused an erratic marking of individual characteristics that made it impossible to say if the bullet came from that gun to the exclusion of all others.
The FBI's expert on firearms, Cortlandt Cunningham, was asked repeatedly if the bullets came from that gun. Each time he stood steadfast in his opinion.

 

Mr. EISENBERG. Now, were you able to determine whether those bullets have been fired in this weapon?
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. No; I was not.
( 3 H 473 ) 

Mr. RHYNE. And with respect to the bullets that were found in the body of Officer Tippit, you testified that you could not be positive that they were fired by this weapon, Exhibit 143.
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. I could not identify those bullets as having been fired from that gun.
( 3 H 482 )

             
Mr. RHYNE. Based on your experience in your study of these bullets, do you have an opinion as to whether or not they were fired by this gun?    
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. No, sir; I cannot determine that.    
Mr. RHYNE. You have no opinion at all?    
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. The only thing I can testify to, is they COULD have, on the basis of the rifling characteristics--they could have been. However, NO CONCLUSION COULD BE REACHED FROM AN ACTUAL COMPARISON OF THESE BULLETS WITH TEST BULLETS OBTAINED FROM THAT GUN.    
Mr. RHYNE. Even though there are a lot of similar markings.    
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. There are not; no, sir. There are not a lot of similar markings. They are similar. The rifling characteristics, are the same, or similar. But, in the individual characteristic marks, there are not a lot of similarities. THERE ARE NOT SUFFICIENT SIMILARITIES TO EFFECT AN IDENTIFICATION.    
Representative BOGGS. Stating Mr. Rhyne's question negatively, THESE BULLETS COULD HAVE BEEN FIRED BY ANOTHER WEAPON ?    
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. THAT IS CORRECT. Either this weapon or ANOTHER WEAPON THAT HAS THE SAME RIFLING CHARACTERISTICS.    
( 3 H 483 )

THE COMMISSION GETS A SECOND OPINION
Not satisfied with the answer they got from the FBI and hellbent to prove Oswald guilty, the Commission reached out to one of its hacks, Joseph Nicol, the Superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation for the State of Illinois. Nichol examined the four bullets removed from Tippit's body and concluded that although he could not identify three of the bullets as having come from that handgun, the fourth, Commision Exhibit 603, he matched as having come from the "Oswald" handgun to the exclusion of all others.

 

This, of course, contradicted what the FBI found.
 

Commission Exhibit 625 is the comparison of the two bullets Nicol based his conclusions on.

CE 603 on the left with a test bullet fired from the handgun on the right. 
 

When one examines it with the naked eye, one can tell that there is one gaping mark that matches, but not much more than that. It seems to support the FBI expert Cunningham's opinion that "there are not a lot of similarities."

HSCA EXAMINATION CONFIRMS FBI FINDINGS
In 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations revisited the Firearms Identification issue with the Tippit bullets. Their expert was a member of their firearms panel, Monty C. Lutz. Lutz was a member of the Wisconsin Regional Crime Laboratory and examined the Tippit bullets, including CE 603, with bullets test fired from the handgun.

Mr. EDGAR. Regarding CE-143, Oswald's revolver, do your test-fired bullets match, microscopically, with CE-602, 603, 604, and 605?
Mr. LUTZ. Are these the bullets that were recovered from Officer Tippit?
Mr. EDGAR. These were the bullets that were recovered from the body of Officer Tippit.
Mr. LUTZ. Our microscopic examination and comparison of these bullets FAILED TO POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THIS REVOLVER AS THE ONE THAT FIRED THOSE BULLETS.
( 1 HSCA 486 )

"As for the evidence in the Tippit shooting, THE BULLETS REMOVED FROM THE OFFICER'S BODY COULD NOT BE LINKED TO OSWALD'S REVOLVER".
( 1 HSCA 443 )

" Regarding the evidence from the Tippit shooting, THE BULLETS REMOVED FROM THE OFFICER'S BODY  COULD NOT BE POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED WITH OSWALD'S REVOLVER."  
( 7 HSCA 357 )

"....The panel was unable to conclude that the Tippit bullets were fired from the CE 143 revolver." ( 7 HSCA 381 )

The HSCA's conclusion not only fully supported the FBI's original finding that the bullets could NOT be matched to the "Oswald" handgun ( CE 143 ), it completely blows away the phony finding of Joseph Nicol.
And it is vindication for Cortlandt Cunningham who correctly stood his ground.

 

Edited by Gil Jesus
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8 hours ago, Benjamin Cole said:

Gil-

Can you add on there, was something funny about the shells found on the Tippit scene? Something about them being identified "auto" or not. 

Great stuff. 

Thanks Ben. I'm going to do a narrative on the shells separately. I'm working on it right now.

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2 hours ago, Gil Jesus said:

Thanks Ben. I'm going to do a narrative on the shells separately. I'm working on it right now.

Great. As I recall, the experienced police vet who picked up the shells said they had the word "auto" on the base of shell, or vice versa from what he had to say later.  I have not known many cops, but the cops I have known know all about ammo and guns. Part of the job. And in Texas no less. 

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Between the revolver, the bullets, the shells, and the star witness Helen Markham, the prosecutors in Oswald's trial would have had quite a job ahead of them.

The thing about the Tippit shooting for me is that the official version of events is just too far fetched to believe and on its own indicates suspicious activity. At least that's how I've always seen it.

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12 hours ago, Joseph McBride said:

Why not? Because (1) Oswald didn't shoot Tippit; and (2) the revolver entered into evidence as the alleged murder weapon was not owned by Oswald. 

BINGO on both counts.

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22 hours ago, Benjamin Cole said:

Great. As I recall, the experienced police vet who picked up the shells said they had the word "auto" on the base of shell, or vice versa from what he had to say later.  I have not known many cops, but the cops I have known know all about ammo and guns. Part of the job. And in Texas no less. 

And the way he phrased it, "the shells at the scene indicate.....", meaning he looked at the shells. There's no way he could have made that error because automatic shells are marked "38 auto" and revolver 38 shells are marked "38 cal". He wants us to believe that he only read the "38" and assumed they were auto. Why would you assume the shells were automatics when the more common 38 ammo was revolver ?

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1 hour ago, Gil Jesus said:

And the way he phrased it, "the shells at the scene indicate.....", meaning he looked at the shells. There's no way he could have made that error because automatic shells are marked "38 auto" and revolver 38 shells are marked "38 cal". He wants us to believe that he only read the "38" and assumed they were auto. Why would you assume the shells were automatics when the more common 38 ammo was revolver ?

And remember...this was the murder of a brother officer.

I assume Dallas is like Los Angeles, and the one crime that is taken more seriously by the LAPD than any other is the murder of a brother officer. Besides that, the bottom of a shell is rather small (about one-quarter inch in diameter). It would be hard to read "38" and not see the word "auto" or "cal." 

I know humans make mistakes, and even experienced professionals make mistakes. Simple mistakes may explain some flubs in the JFK evidence. It happens. 

But when a brother officer is murdered....I would think the officer gave a long, long, serious look at the shells. Even the department dullard would make sure to ID the shells properly. 

 

 

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The "brother officer" concern automatically brought many policemen to Oak Cliff,

as planned, but the DPD basically abandoned Tippit's case when Oswald was shot

and didn't bother properly investigating let alone solving the crime.

Oswald had the Tippit killing pinned on him, though he did not do it,

because they didn't have a case on him for

killing Kennedy. And the police themselves were involved in killing Tippit

and covering that up. Tippit was involved in the overall plot at least

in regard to being assigned with Officer William Mentzel to capture or eliminate the patsy

before Oswald's identity was officially known to the DPD (though

they knew very well who he was). So the "brother

officer" tradition in this case is a bitter joke.

Edited by Joseph McBride
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On 8/15/2021 at 9:59 PM, Gil Jesus said:

Thanks Ben. I'm going to do a narrative on the shells separately. I'm working on it right now.

Gil, Certainly the shells 'evidence' in the WC fictions are some of the most blatant examples of false evidence in the JFK case.

On Tippit, the links in the chains are non-existent!  J.M. Poe's two cartridges from Benevides had his initials JMP scratched on them, but when the Commission presented him with cartridges supposedly from the Tippit killing none had his initials on them.   Poe passed these two shells to DPD Sergeant Willie E. Barnes who scratched 'B' inside both shells.  Again when WC presented four cartridges to Barnes he could not find his mark on any of them!

Just like Tomlinson & Wright couldn't i.d. the blunt nosed CE399.

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Pete Mellor said:

Gil, Certainly the shells 'evidence' in the WC fictions are some of the most blatant examples of false evidence in the JFK case.

On Tippit, the links in the chains are non-existent!  J.M. Poe's two cartridges from Benevides had his initials JMP scratched on them, but when the Commission presented him with cartridges supposedly from the Tippit killing none had his initials on them.   Poe passed these two shells to DPD Sergeant Willie E. Barnes who scratched 'B' inside both shells.  Again when WC presented four cartridges to Barnes he could not find his mark on any of them!

Just like Tomlinson & Wright couldn't i.d. the blunt nosed CE399.

They can say that Sgt. Hill made a mistake identifying the shells, but there were a lot of other "mistakes" from other people that supported his. Like Callaway's description of the man he saw with an automatic pistol raised in the air. That description was broadcast on the police radio almost immediately.

Callaway couldn't tell the difference from across the street between an automatic and a revolver ? What are talking here, 30 or 40 feet ?

Then there's the witness who claimed that the shots were fired in rapid succession, like from an automatic.

And those witnesses who said the man was "reloading", could it have been that the gun was an automatic that jammed and he was trying to free it up ?

And why would you reload if you still had unfired rounds in the gun ? When he unloaded, why didn't the unfired rounds fall on the ground like the empty shells ?

A lot of doubt that the murder weapon was a revolver......stay tuned.

Edited by Gil Jesus
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/19/2021 at 10:08 AM, Joseph McBride said:

The "brother officer" concern automatically brought many policemen to Oak Cliff,

as planned, but the DPD basically abandoned Tippit's case when Oswald was shot

and didn't bother properly investigating let alone solving the crime.

Oswald had the Tippit killing pinned on him, though he did not do it,

because they didn't have a case on him for

killing Kennedy. And the police themselves were involved in killing Tippit

and covering that up. Tippit was involved in the overall plot at least

in regard to being assigned with Officer William Mentzel to capture or eliminate the patsy

before Oswald's identity was officially known to the DPD (though

they knew very well who he was). So the "brother

officer" tradition in this case is a bitter joke.

Hi Mr. McBride, 

Did you ever come across J.D ever having anything to do with a Johnny Witherspoon in Dallas during 1962 and 1963?

Also what happened to Officer Mentzel post November 22nd 1963?

Regards,

A.J

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I interviewed Johnnie Maxie Witherspoon for my book INTO THE NIGHTMARE. She gave me

a quite candid interview about their relationship.

Mentzel served as an honor guard at the funeral home

and cemetery for Tippit and then received some other

important guarding assignments with the DPD. He died in 2002.

As a Navy veteran of Korea, he is buried in the Dallas Fort

Worth National Cemetery managed by the VA.

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