DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Retired Dallas Police Homicide Detective Jim Leavelle has died at the age of 99.
He was the man in the white hat who escorted Lee Harvey Oswald when the JFK assassin was shot and killed by Jack Ruby.
Leavelle was one of the last living key figures in the case.
A while back, Leavelle talked to CBS 11 about his life.
On December 7, 1941, Leavelle was a 21-year-old sailor aboard the USS Whitney and witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“At that time I didn’t really know how many people we lost,” he said.
After the attack, Leavelle and his shipmates would spring into action to help those on the other damaged ships.
Leavelle would eventually leave the Navy, making his way back to North Texas where he joined the Dallas Police Department in 1950.
“I saw an opening in the police department and I’d always wanted to be a police officer and I always thought I would. The rest is history you might say.”
On the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Leavelle investigated the murder of Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit.
He interrogated Lee Harvey Oswald about the crime.
“I had about 15-20 minutes with Oswald. I didn’t say a word about the President because I had no idea he was involved in that. All I was talking to him about was Officer Tippit’s murder.”
Soon police would connect the dogs and two days later, Leavelle would have another meeting with destiny.
“I saw Jack Ruby and he was holding that pistol tight against his leg. As soon as I saw that I knew what was fixing to happen.”
Oswald died and later, Ruby died in jail.
Leavelle retired from the Dallas Police Department in April 1975.
He was recognized for his service in 2013.
The department’s detective of the year award has since been renamed in his honor.
Up until his death, Leavelle believed Oswald acted alone.
If I’d have got to go to court with him, I think I could have proved beyond a doubt with the evidence I gathered that he acted alone had nobody with him but since we didn’t get to try him, I didn’t get to do that.”
The Dallas Police Association has since released this statement:
Though the photo may be the most iconic moment in his career, and keep him in the history books for future generations, the Dallas Police Department and the officers who served with him know that he is worthy of a legacy for being one of the smartest, accomplished and dedicated detectives in the history of the DPD.
It is never easy to lose a member of our blue family, but we give thanks for his service and his dedication to honoring our profession. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family as our department and the city mourn this loss.