The Mystery of Blackie Harrison and Ike Pappas
by Ralph C. Cinque
The discontinuity between the right side of the Jack Beers photo of the Oswald shooting and the right side of the Robert Jackson photo of it centers around the two men mentioned in the title: DPD Detective William "Blackie" Harrison and the Greek-American reporter for CBS, Icarus Pappas.
In Beers, we see Pappas, and we know what he was doing: he was extending his microphone to ask Oswald a question, which was, "Do you have anything to say in your defense?"
By Pappas' own admission, he was asking his question right then. Think about the purpose of holding a microphone out. It is to wait for an answer. So, there is no reason to think he would have moved away after that. He would not have withdrawn. He would have waited, hoping that Oswald would respond. But, less than one second after that, there is the Jackson photo, in which we don't see Ike Pappas, and instead, we see Detective Blackie Harrison.
There are two simultaneous questions: Why don't we see Pappas in Jackson, and why don't we see Harrison in Beers?
Some have tried to claim that this is Harrison in Beers.
There's a certain resemblance, but it's far from certain, and we're talking about only .6 second. So, how could he possibly go from that to this?
And note that now he's taking a drag from his little cigar. So, he relocated and stretched his arm out and got a cigar going in .6 second? It is preposterous.
Likewise, some have tried to claim that the dark grey form below Blackie's armpit in Jackson is the Jacksonian representation of Ike Pappas. But, that is a totally arbitrary and unproven assertion.
Notice that Pappas said nothing about asking the question and then drawing back and withdrawing his arm with the microphone. He didn't claim to do that, and there is no reason to think that he would have. Therefore, the claims of this being Pappas standing out beneath Blackie's axilla are unfounded:
Yet, there is yet another dilemma, and that is: Why is Blackie extending his arm? He wasn't a reporter. He didn't have a microphone. And he obviously wasn't asking Oswald a question at the time because he was taking a drag from his cigarette. Or is it a small cigar? You be the judge. But, you can't talk and take a drag from your cigarette or cigar and ask a question at the same time. So, what is his arm doing out there?
One clue is the dimension of his arm. It's very wide. Either he had a very thick arm (which I doubt) or he had a very loose hanging sleeve (which I also doubt). I think we should consider that there was a photographic purpose in his arm being there obstructing the view like that, which is to be a screen to cover something up. But, what could it be? I believe what he is covering up is what Officer L.C. Graves was doing with his left arm. What was Graves doing with it? I don't know. Obviously, we can't see in this picture because of Blackie's arm. But, maybe Graves wasn't doing anything, and maybe that was the problem. After all, the shot has already been fired. So, if he is just standing there and not making a move towards "Ruby," it might look bad. Supposedly, Graves reached for "Ruby's" arm with the gun, but is he doing that here? It doesn't look like it because his shoulders would be turned in that direction if he was. So, was Blackie Harrison's arm put into this photograph to cover up the interface between "Ruby" and Graves?
By the way, it is widely accepted that that is Blackie Harrison. It says so in the description of the Jackson photo on Wikipedia.
Lee Harvey Oswald, the instant he is shot point-blank by Jack Ruby in Dallas, Texas on November 24, 1963, as photographed by Robert Jackson. To the left is Will Fritz, who was in charge of interrogating Oswald, and was momentarily oblivious to what was going on behind him. Jim Leavelle is trying in vain to jerk Oswald behind him. The man with the cigar, reaching out to try to stop Ruby, is Dallas Police Detective William Joseph "Blackie" Harrison.
There are lots of lies there, but the one we want to focus on right now is the claim that what Blackie was trying to do by reaching out with his arm was stop Ruby. STOP RUBY????? Are they out of their minds?????? Blackie was trying to stop a murderer while continuing to taking a drag from his cigar?
But, I am afraid that that has become the official story of what Blackie was doing. This is Blackie's son years later:
So, the caption says that Blackie was reaching in for Ruby's gun (while continuing to take a drag from his cigar):
Well, as you can see, it is impossible because his arm could not have been long enough.
So, the white x marks where the gun was, and the two white lines show how long his arm had to be to get to it. Obviously, his arm wasn't that long. Are you wondering whether he could have leaned into it or moved himself closer to it? Well, don't you think he would have interrupted his smoking to do that?
This whole story is preposterous. If Blackie Harrison made a move for Ruby's gun at that point, wouldn't he have been questioned about it by the Warren Commission? Well, he was questioned by the Warren Commission:
And it is some interesting testimony, although it is very tedious. Extremely tedious. These WC examiners, including this Attorney Burt Griffin who questioned Harrison, wanted to know minutia to a degree that is almost insane, and, it is very irritating. Note that Blackie chose to have a lawyer present with him. And, I learned that Blackie claimed to know Jack Ruby for 12 years. And, he claimed to be one of the officers who went to Ruby's club. Also, apparently, it was a cigar he was smoking because he claimed to go down to the sub-basement below the garage, where the lockers were, beforehand, to retrieve his cigars. So, after he got his cigars, he was sent out into the garage, and he was told that they wanted the reporters on the east side of the ramp and the officers on the west side.
Then, there was very long, tedious questioning about whether Blackie should have seen Ruby coming down that Main Street ramp. I'll just post some of it just to give you a sample.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Yes. Let me make sure that I am clear on that. I don't want to put words in your mouth. Is it fair to say that, if on any occasion that you had to look up toward the Main Street ramp, if there had been a man walking down that ramp, you or any other officer with vision like yourself would have been able to recognize that person coming down the ramp?
Mr. HARRISON. I don't know whether you could have recognized him or not due to the fact that you were looking into sunlight.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Well, that is the north side of the building.
Mr. HARRISON. That is on the north side of the building, but it was very bright that day.
Mr. GRIFFIN. But you also had floodlights down in the basement?
Mr. HARRISON. That is right.
Mr. GRIFFIN. It was bright in the basement?
Mr. HARRISON. That is right.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Your eyes would be accustomed to those bright lights?
Mr. HARRISON. A man coming down, if he got close to you, you could recognize him, but just a man in a suit walking down that ramp, it would have been hard to recognize. I will put it that way.
It goes on and on like that, and my impression is that Griffin was trying to discredit Ruby's claim of just freely walking down the Main Street ramp. But, Blackie was on the defensive, that there was too much light to see, with the sunlight, and the floodlights, the glare on his face, etc.
Now, after that minutia, when it finally came down to the Oswald shooting, they flew through it:
Mr. GRIFFIN. Did you at any time, now, did you see Jack Ruby in this basement at any time before he shot Oswald?
Mr. HARRISON. Not before he shot Oswald.
Mr. GRIFFIN. When you were standing here, did you feel a man pressing up against your back?
Mr. HARRISON. No; I didn't.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Of course, you have seen the photographs, haven't you?
Mr. HARRISON. Yes, sir.
Mr. GRIFFIN. And you saw where Jack came from?
Mr. HARRISON. Yes, sir.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Was there anybody that you know of that saw Ruby there?
Mr. HARRISON. Not that I know of.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Have you talked to anybody that indicated to you that he saw Ruby there
Mr. HARRISON. I sure haven't.
Mr. GRIFFIN. Now, what did you do after Ruby shot Oswald?
Mr. HARRISON. Well, I grabbed him and more or less went to the floor with him and then we took him on into the jail office.
Mr. GRIFFIN. And how long did you remain with him in the jail office?
Mr. HARRISON. Until he was handcuffed, and I went upstairs on the elevator with him.
Mr. GRIFFIN. And how long did you remain with him upstairs?
Mr. HARRISON. I didn't. I left him at the elevator. McMillon and Archer went back, took him on back to the cell, and I went back down on the elevator to the basement.
Notice that he said nothing about reaching his arm in while Ruby was in the act of shooting Oswald. So, Blackie Harrison did not confirm the story of the Jackson photo that he was trying to interfere with the shooting at the instant it happened. Blackie NEVER claimed to react that fast or to be in a position to. And notice also that he claimed to subdue Ruby and then take him into the jail office and then cuff him, but without explaining why he didn't cuff him in the garage. And apparently, Mr. Griffin, in all the minutia he wanted to know, did not want to know that. And then after cuffing him, Blackie escorted Ruby to the elevator where he was taken up to the 3rd floor by McMillon and Archer. And by all indications, that happened right away. Immediately. And there are other reports of this, that Ruby was dragged into the jail office, cuffed, and then taken immediately up to the 3rd floor. A certain imbecile has been giving me flack about that, but that is the story.
The last issue discussed concerned James Bookhout. After the Oswald shooting, Harrison was sent to Love Field, and while he was there, who do you think called him? None other than James Bookhout. Here they are together in the garage as Oswald was being rolled out.
Bookhout filed a report about his phone interview with Blackie. In the report, Bookhout claimed that Blackie said that Ruby said repeatedly during the scuffle, "You all know me. I'm Jack Ruby." Griffin wanted to know if that was true what Bookhout claimed he said. Blackie said that it was true but that Ruby only said it once. Then, Bookhout claimed that Blackie said that on the way to the 3rd floor, that Ruby said, "I hope I killed the SOB. I saved you people a lot of trouble." Blackie said that he told Bookhout the first sentence but not the second one.
That leaves a lot to think about, such as James Bookhout being a filthy liar and fabricator, but right now, the main thing is that Blackie Harrison said nothing about trying to interfere while Ruby was in the act of shooting Oswald, with his gun in Oswald's belly. That is completely missing from his testimony, even though it has been written into the legend of the Jackson photo.
In fact, it is comical to think that he was trying to disrupt a gun attack while sucking on a cigar. Who would do that? Maybe Groucho Marx would, but that's about it.
So, what really happened? I don't claim to know. I can only speculate. But, let's consider the possibility that Pappas was there in Jackson similar to how he was in Beers. And his arm was extended with the microphone in hand, as in Beers. But, it didn't go far enough to obscure what Graves was doing- or not doing.
Let's look at it from the advantage of this film. We can see both Pettit and Pappas, and they both have microphones.
Then, Pappas gets bold. He moves in, to talk to Oswald.
Then, we get our first glimpse of "Ruby" in his fedora hat.
"Ruby" is on his way now, and Blackie is nowhere to be seen.
Notice that you can still see Pappas, and he has his microphone right there. And then we get to the moment of the shooting.
And as expected, there is still no Blackie. So, what this tells me is that the image of Blackie Harrison in the Jackson photo is fake.
They put it in there because they needed his arm to cover up the interface between Graves and "Ruby" and in the process, they covered up Pappas. The vague form we are seeing below Blackie's armpit may be a remnant of Pappas, or it may be something they concocted to represent a remnant of Pappas. But, Pappas' arm was extended holding the mic, so it definitely didn't look like what we see there.
And that, to the best of knowledge, explains the mystery of the discrepancy between Beers and Jackson concerning Blackie Harrison and Ike Pappas. And, it also explains why Blackie Harrison showed up with a lawyer. He had to know about the Jackson photo and how it featured him. But, his questioner, Burt Griffin, shrewdly avoided asking him anything about it. You would think he would have held the photo in hand and said, "That's you, right? So, what the hell were you doing?"
But, like the shrewd government lawyer that he was, he didn't breath a word.