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Old April 6th, 2014, 10:06 AM   #1
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The Grassy Knoll Theory: Debunked

The Grassy Knoll, Part 1: Frame 313

Kennedy was shot twice: first through the neck (by the bullet that went on to pierce Connally), then in the head. The Zapruder film captured this shot too, in Frame 313. The image was deemed so horrifying that it was excised from public viewings of the film until 1975, when President Gerald Ford (who’d served on the Warren Commission) ordered it released. I remember watching the fully restored film on TV. It really was horrifying. You saw the top of President Kennedy’s head literally blown off. But it was creepy for another reason: the blown-off piece of his head blew backward. In other words, it looked like that fatal bullet was fired not from behind Kennedy, like the first bullet, but from in front of him. Were there two gunmen after all—Oswald in the book depository and someone else perched in the area known as the “grassy knoll”?


I went back to the library and scoured the Warren hearings. There I found neurologists testifying that a nerve ending can explode when hit by a bullet and that the two trajectories—where the bullet came from and which way the nerve fragments fly—are not necessarily related. Experiments from the 1940s, in which bullets were fired into the heads of live goats, revealed this fact. So, the evidence of Frame 313 was at least ambiguous; it said nothing, one way or the other, about the plausibility of a second-gunman theory.

However, in 1975, CBS News, which was doing a documentary on the assassination, hired a tech firm to conduct a high-resolution analysis of the Zapruder film, using instruments that hadn’t existed in the Warren Commission’s day. The firm discovered that, on Frame 312, Kennedy’s head slammed a tiny bit forward, and much more quickly than it jolted backward an instant later on Frame 313. The implication: The bullet hit his head from behind, pushing him forward, then a nerve exploded, which happened to push him backward.

The Grassy Knoll, Part 2: The Acoustical Analysis

In 1976, the House of Representatives formed a special committee to reinvestigate the Kennedy assassination. After many hearings and extensive analysis, the panel concluded that there had been a second shooter after all. This surprise conclusion was based on a newly discovered piece of evidence—an audiotape from a radio transmission from a Dallas policeman who’d been escorting JFK’s motorcade.* According to the House report, an acoustical analysis of the tape revealed that four gunshots were fired—and that, given the echo patterns and the officer’s location, one of those shots came from the grassy knoll.

The report stirred such commotion that the National Academy of Sciences conducted its own analysis of the tape—and concluded that the House report was hooey. First, it turned out that some of those four gunshot-like sounds were not gunshots. Second, the motorcycle cop in question was not where the House report claimed, so even if the sounds had been gunshots, a revised echo analysis put them someplace other than the grassy knoll. Third, some of the sounds on the tape occurred a minute after the assassination.

Case closed.
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Old April 6th, 2014, 01:51 PM   #2
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GRASSY KNOLL DEBUNKED BY SIMPLE GEOMETRY 22 YEARS AGO

The JFK 100


The fifth shot
("Back and to the left")


Oliver Stone uses the backwards motion of the President's head in the Zapruder film (beginning in frame 314) to argue for an assassin on the grassy knoll. As discussed in the previous section, this argument ignores the forward motion of the head that occurs between frames 312 and 313.
But putting aside the initial forward motion, is the backwards motion in the Zapruder film evidence of a shot from the knoll?

The trajectory from the knoll


"Back and to the left, back and to the left," intones New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) in JFK.

But look more closely. The President was not thrust "back and to the left"; JFK states it more accurately a few seconds earlier: "This is the key shot. Watch it again. The President going back to his left."(1)

Back to his left. This is what the Zapruder film shows (see below).

A comparison of Z frames 315-318

Does this make a difference? It does. Had the President been thrust to the left, that is, the left side of the limousine, directly into his wife, Jacqueline, this would not be inconsistent with the trajectory of a shot from the grassy knoll.

But that's not what happened. JFK lurched forcefully to his left, almost directly backwards in his seat.



In 1992, author Harrison E. Livingstone became the first conspiracy-oriented author to debunk the myth of the grassy knoll gunman. Livingstone writes:

If [the President] had been hit from the Grassy Knoll or stockade fence, it would have taken off the left side of his head and thrown him violently sideways, and not backward as in the film. The left side of his head was not damaged at all.(2)



Author and JFK consultant Gus Russo concurs. He stood behind the camera as Oliver Stone filmed the motorcade scene, and has this to say:

Standing behind the picket fence, it is . . . apparent that if the shot were from the front, then it couldn't have originated behind the fence: the fence is at a 90 degree angle to Kennedy's head -- tilted 34 degrees left of center when hit -- at the time the President was struck. A virtual broadside hit. Such a shot would not have forced JFK's head forward or backward, but side to side, with the bullet exiting near Kennedy's left ear, hitting Jackie. Of course, none of this happened.(3)



Note also that in the frames of the Zapruder film following the head shot, the wound is towards the front right of the President's head, not in the back, as Oliver Stone claims elsewhere in JFK.
Compare the following images, depicting the approximate trajectory(4) a bullet would take in order to hypothetically cause the rearward movement of the President, and the approximate trajectory a bullet would take from where Oliver Stone places a gunman on the grassy knoll.

Harrison Livingstone is not the only conspiracy theorist to acknowledge the disconnect between grassy knoll gunman theories and the "back and to the left" motion apparent in the Zapruder film.

Sherry Gutierrez is the former head of the Forensic Investigative Unit for St. Charles Parish of the Louisiana Sheriff's Department. She is a member of the Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction and "has testified as an expert in crime scene reconstruction and bloodstain pattern analysis in over 30 judicial districts in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida." She believes that a shot struck the President from the front, but acknowledges that the President's wounds rule out the possibility that a shot could have come from his right side.



Gutierrez observes, "Since the grassy knoll is not positioned within the possible locations of the shooter for the headshot, the fatal headshot could not have originated from behind the picket fence."(5)
The fifth shot ("Back and to the left") (Page 2): Oliver Stone's JFK: The JFK 100: JFK assassination investigation: Jim Garrison New Orleans investigation of the John F. Kennedy assassination
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