TESTIMONY OF RIO S. PIERCE beginning at 12H337...

The testimony of Rio S. Pierce was taken at 11:20 p.m., on March 24, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex., by Mr. Leon D. Hubert, Jr., assistant counsel of the President's Commission.

Mr. HUBERT. This is the deposition of Lt. Rio S. Pierce, with the Dallas Police Department. Lieutenant Pierce, my name is Leon D. Hubert, Jr. I am a member of the advisory staff of the general counsel on the President's Commission. Under the provisions of the Executive Order No. 11130, dated November 29, 1963, the joint resolution of Congress No. 137, and the rules of procedure adopted by the Commission in conformance with the Executive order and that joint resolution, I have been authorized to take the sworn deposition from you, Lieutenant Pierce. I state to you now that the general nature of the Commission's inquiry is to ascertain, evaluate, and report upon the facts relating to the


assassination of President Kennedy and the subsequent violent death of Lee Harvey Oswald. In particular to you, Lieutenant Pierce, the nature of the inquiry today is to determine what facts you know about. the death of Oswald and any other pertinent facts you may know about the general inquiry. Lieutenant Pierce, you have appeared today by virtue of a general request made to Chief Curry by J. Lee Rankin, the General Counsel of the Commission. Under the rules adopted by the Commission you are entitled to have a 3-day written notice prior to the taking of the deposition, but the rules also provide that You may waive that 3-day written notice if you see fit to do so, and I ask you-----
Lieutenant PIERCE. I waive that.
Mr. HUBERT. May I ask you to stand and raise your right hand so that You can be sworn? Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I do.
Mr. HUNT. Will you please state your name?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Rio S. Pierce.
Mr. HUBERT. Age?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Forty.
Mr. HUBERT. Your residence, please?
Lieutenant PIERCE. 3227 South Edgefield.
Mr. HUBERT. What is your occupation?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Police officer, city of Dallas.
Mr. HUBERT. And how long have you been so occupied?
Lieutenant PIERCE. About 17 1/2years.
Mr. HUBERT. How long have you held the rank of lieutenant?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Four years.
Mr. HUBERT. What were your specific duties and responsibilities on November 24, 1963?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Do you have reference to normal duties, or on this specific day?
Mr. HUBERT. On this specific day.
Lieutenant PIERCE. On this specific day I had instructions to secure the basement of the city hall.
Mr. HUBERT. From whom did you receive those instructions?
Lieutenant PIERCE. From Captain Talbert.
Mr. HUBERT. Is he one of your superior officers?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Yes; captain of the radio patrol, lieutenant commander and--
Mr. HUBERT. What time did he give you those orders, sir?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I would say about 9 to 9:15.
Mr. HUBERT. Did he direct you as to what you were to do in order to secure the basement area?
Lieutenant PIERCE. No, sir; other than securing enough men from the other stations to secure the basement properly and make arrangements for whatever manpower was needed for the transfer.
Mr. HUBERT. All right. Would you state for the record what you actually did in connection with carrying out those orders?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Well, while we were responsible for the routine work of the department, we had to determine what manpower would be pulled on the various substations that we had, and those men were called in to the central station to be used as they were needed. Sergeant Dean was assigned the security of the basement, and he was assisted by Sergeant Putnam, and as I recall, there was a total of about 19 men that were called off their districts to help in this work.
Mr. HUBERT. Did you, yourself, do any of the inspection work, or the searching out work?
Lieutenant PIERCE. No, sir; Sergeant Dean made the assignment of the men, and approximately an hour later, I guess maybe 10:15, I did make an inspection of the basement, and apparently everything had been checked out, and it was considered secure.
Mr. HUBERT. What did your inspection consist of at the time?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Looking over the basement.


Mr. HUBERT. Did you walk around?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Yes, sir; I walked around the basement and checked various entrances to the city hall basement.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you know a reserve officer by the name of Brock?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I can't recall right now. I know the name, I am sure that I know him by sight, but I don't connect the name with the person.
Mr. HUBERT. Did you notice that there had been placed a uniformed officer, reserve or otherwise, near the service elevator in the basement?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Are you talking about in the new building?
Mr. HUBERT. Yes, sir; the elevator that goes up into the municipal building. Lieutenant PIERCE. As well as I remember, there was an officer. I believe his name was Brock. A police officer by the name of Brock. I'm not certain, but those elevators had been cut off for----
Mr. HUBERT. Well, the two regular elevators had, but what about the service elevator that had two doors, one leading into the basement and another one leading on the other side of the basement? Are you familiar with the elevator at all?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Yes, sir; it has a back door to it leading out into the alley, and that is the elevator I believe, that was brought down and cut off and an officer stationed there to see that it didn't run.
Mr. HUBERT. Were you aware of any planned route from the basement area to the county jail?
Lieutenant PIERCE. My .instructions were that I would escort the armored car, which would be a decoy, from Commerce Street ramp to Central north-bound. To Elm Street onto Houston Street, which would be the entrance to the county jail.
Mr. HUBERT. Who did you receive those orders from?
Lieutenant PIERCE. From Chief Curry and Chief Stevenson.
Mr. HUBERT. About what time did you get those orders?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I would assume it was about 11:15.
Mr. HUBERT. What did you do then?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I immediately left. I received these instructions in the homicide office, which is on the third floor of the city hall. Immediately left there and rode the elevator down to the basement where I secured a car and I found that the normal exit, which is the exit on Commerce Street from the basement of the city hall, was blocked by an armored car. It was necessary for me to use the Main Street exit. I mean--actually, the Main Street entrance, because we don't exit
Mr. HUBERT. But you used it as an exit?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I used it as an exit.
Mr. HUBERT. Who was with you?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Sergeant Putnam was in the front seat with me and Sergeant Maxey was in the back seat.
Mr. HUBERT. Well, tell us what happened along the route then?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Well, we pulled out of the basement, and I would judge from the time, from the length of time, probably a length it would take it to circle city hall.
Mr. HUBERT. When you got to the top of the basement, were there any guards there on the Main Street entrance?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Patrolman Vaughn was stationed at the top of the ramp.
Mr. HUBERT. YOU knew him prior to that time?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. What happened then?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Well, actually, nothing happened outside of the fact that he had to move out of the way to let us out.
Mr. HUBERT. Which way did he move?
Lieutenant PIERCE. He moved toward the street.
Mr. HUBERT. I mean on which side of you?
Lieutenant PIERCE. He moved to my right.
Mr. HUBERT. And toward the street?
Lieutenant PIERCE. And towards the street; yes, sir.


Mr. HUBERT. What way was he facing then during the period that you were moving by him?
Lieutenant PIERCE. He was facing me, as well as I remember.
Mr. HUBERT. That is---
Lieutenant PIERCE. Momentarily, anyway.
Mr. HUBERT. In fact, he would have been looking from where he was standing toward the Main Street entrance?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Did you see him turn his head any at all?
Lieutenant PIERCE. No, sir; I couldn't see him for just a matter of a second there when I pulled out. That ramp is steep and a little bit difficult to get out there.
Mr. HUBERT. Did he step out in the street at all?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Not to my knowledge.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, did you turn, immediately outside the Main Street entry or exit, to your right?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I was aware that people were pressed, not a large number of them, but I would say maybe four or five.
Mr. HUBERT. On your right?
Lieutenant PIERCE. No, well, probably might have been a--I don't know. Just a guess. I don't recall the number of people now, what it would be.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you recall whether there were some people on your right?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I was aware that people were on both sides of the car when I pulled across the sidewalk.
Mr. HUBERT. And how far from the entrance?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Well, probably 6 or 7 feet.
Mr. HUBERT. Did you recognize anybody at all?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Nobody except one by the name of Vaughn.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, subsequently, of course, it turned out that Ruby shot Oswald. Did you know him prior to that time?
Lieutenant PIERCE. No.
Mr. HUBERT. Ruby?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Yes, sir; I have known him 12 or 13 years, I guess.
Mr. HUBERT. So, you would recognize him without any difficulty whether he had a hat on or not?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I don't think I would have any trouble recognizing him if I saw him.
Mr. HUBERT. You did not, see him in that crowd to your right?
Lieutenant PIERCE. No; I didn't see him that day at all.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you think that if he had been there he would have recognized you?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I'm saying the possibilities are very great that had he been there I might not have seen him. I mean, due to the time element and more or less concerned with getting across the sidewalk and into the street, driving the automobile at the same time. I am saying the possibilities are very good that I might not have seen him had he been there. I'd be very hesitant to say that I wouldn't.
Mr. HUBERT. I'm going to mark for identification three documents. First, I am marking, "Dallas, Texas, March 24th, 1964, Exhibit 5077. Deposition of Rio Pierce" and putting my name underneath that, and my initial on the second page and in the right-hand lower corner, that being a copy of a letter dated November 26, 1963, addressed to Chief Curry. The second document also consisting of two pages, a report of an interview with you by FBI Agents Smith and Chapoton, on December 6, in 1963. I am marking that, "Dallas, Texas, March 24, 1964. Exhibit 5078, deposition of Rio Pierce." Signing my name on the front page of that, and I place my initials on the lower right-hand corner of the second page. And I am marking a third document on the right-hand margin, "Dallas, Texas, March 24, 1964. Exhibit 5079, deposition of Rio Pierce." Signing my name on that front page and placing my initials in the lower right-hand corner of the second and third pages. That last document, to wit: 5079, purports to be a report of an interview by FBI Agents Chapoton and


Smith of you, Rio Pierce, on December 2, 1963. Now, I ask you if you have had an opportunity to look at these documents?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Are those documents correct and true?
Lieutenant PIERCE. To the best of my knowledge, they are.
Mr. HUBERT. Are there any omissions of a material nature?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I don't recall any.
Mr. HUBERT. Anything you would like to delete as not being the truth, or add because it has been omitted?
Lieutenant PIERCE No; I don't see anything in there that I would care to change.
Mr. HUBERT. As far as you know, this represents the truth as you know it?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, Maxey was in your car, was he not?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Was he in the rear?
Lieutenant PIERCE. Yes.
Mr. HUBERT. Did he ever talk to you about having seen Daniels at the exit? N. J. Daniels?
Lieutenant PIERCE. You mean since then?
Mr. HUBERT. Well, since the day you drove out of there. In other words, have you and Maxey ever, at all, conversed about whether he, Maxey, saw Daniels?
Lieutenant PIERCE. It is possible. I don't recall. People talk about a lot of things since then.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, there has been no interview between you and any member of the Commission's staff before this deposition today, has there?
Lieutenant PIERCE. No.
Mr. HUBERT. Anything else you want to say or add or change?
Lieutenant PIERCE. I don't know of a thing.
Mr. HUBERT. Thank you very much, sir.