The testimony of Detective James C. Watson was taken at 10 a.m., on March 26, 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 James C. Watson of the Dallas Police Department. Mr. Watson, my name is Leon Hubert. I am a member of the advisory staff of the general counsel of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy.
Under the provisions of President Johnson's Executive Order 11130, dated November 29, 1963, a joint resolution of Congress 137 and rules of procedure adopted by the Commission in conformance with the Executive order and the joint resolution I have been authorized to take a sworn deposition from you, Mr. Watson. I state to you 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 subsequent violent death of Lee Harvey Oswald. And in particular, as to you, Mr. Watson, 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. Now, Mr. Watson, you have appeared here today by virtue of a general request made to Chief Curry by Mr. J. Lee Rankin, who is the general counsel on the Staff of the President's Commission. Under the rules adopted by the Commission you are entitled to a 3-day written notice prior to the taking of this deposition, and the rules also provide that a witness may waive his 3-day written notice and I will ask you now if you are willing to waive the notice?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Will you please stand and raise your right hand and be sworn?


Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. WATSON. I do.
Mr. HUBERT. Will you please state your full name?
Mr. WATSON. James C. Watson. James Colvin Watson.
Mr. HUBERT. Your age?
Mr. WATSON. 43.
Mr. HUBERT. Where do you live, sir?
Mr. WATSON. 2743 Clover Lane, Dallas.
Mr. HUBERT. Clover Lane. What is your occupation and how long have you been so occupied?
Mr. WATSON. City detective. I have been with the police department 15 years, going on 16 years. Been a detective about 8 years.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, were your particular assignment and duties on November 22, 23, and 24 the same as today? That is to say, same department?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. What is that?
Mr. WATSON. Auto theft bureau.
Mr. HUBERT. Normally, of course, members of the auto theft bureau would have nothing to do with homicide and so forth?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir; they just took men out of each bureau to help out when they had the lunch out at The Trade Mart.
Mr. HUBERT. And you were simply assigned to assist in the transfer of Oswald?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. And you were on duty that day?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, I have marked for purposes of identification what appears to be a photostatic copy of a letter dated November 22, 1963, addressed to J. E. Curry, chief of police, apparently signed by you, consisting of two pages and for the purpose of identification I mark the first page as follows, to wit: "Dallas, Tex., March 26, 1964, Exhibit 5102, deposition of J. C. Watson," and I have signed my name. That inscription is in the right-hand margin of the letter, and on each page I have placed my initials at the bottom of the page. I think you have read that statement?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Is that statement correct? Does it contain the truth?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Any modifications or deletions or additions that you wish to make concerning that letter?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir; only difference in that one that apparently either FBI or Mr. Scott wrote, I show that I was in Jack Ruby's place, and it says, "several" there, and I have only seen him one time prior to the time this happened, and I only saw him after the shooting.
Mr. HUBERT. I think it would be proper for you--when we get to discussing the FBI documents that you repeat that comment.
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. I have also marked for the purposes of identification a letter to Chief Curry dated November 30th, 1963, by C. C. Wallace and P. G. McCaghren concerning an interview evidently with you. For the purposes of identification I mark that with the following inscription, "Dallas, Tex., March 26, 1964. Exhibit 5103, deposition of J. C. Watson," and I sign my name. That consists of one page. Have you read that, sir?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir; I have.
Mr. HUBERT. That's correct; isn't it?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, in order that the record may show that we are both talking about the same document I would like you to sign your name below mine on both documents and initial the second page, as I have done.
Mr. WATSON. Initial those pages?
Mr. HUBERT. No; sign your name below mine. Right there. That's right.
Mr. WATSON. And initial the second page?
Mr. HUBERT. Initial the second page just below my initial. While we are


on that second page I notice that is a photostatic copy and--the signature, is that yours?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, then, would you sign your name below mine on the document marked Exhibit 5103? Now, I show you a document purporting to be a report by FBI Agent Scott of an interview of you which took place, apparently, on November 25, 1963, and for the purposes of identification, I have marked that document in the right-hand margin with the following inscription, to wit: "Dallas, Tex., March 26, 1964. Exhibit 5104. Deposition of J. C. Watson. Leon D. Hubert, Jr." I wonder if you would sign below my name so as the record may show that we are talking about the same document?
Mr. WATSON. This is the one?
Mr. HUBERT. You are going to have an opportunity to make the correction. Just for the purpose of identification put your name on it. Now, as to this document, which has now been signed by both of us and identified as 5104, I believe you have some comments to make?
Mr. WATSON. I believe--I thought it was, main letter, but it was my second letter that states that I only saw Jack Ruby one time and the FBI letter taken from it where they show that I had saw him on several occasions. I only saw him one time. We went in there and stayed 10 or 15 minutes. I think we had a cup of coffee and sat and talked to him a little bit, and that is the only occasion I have seen the man before I saw him in the basement after the shooting.
Mr. HUBERT. How long before the shooting did that----
Mr. WATSON. I'd say 3 to 4 years, in my estimate. I would say 2 to 4 years. I couldn't be sure. It has been a long time.
Mr. HUBERT. When you did see him, did you recognize him?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir; I believe I would have recognized him in his place and I did recognize him after the shooting only because I saw two or three people call his name. Then I did recognize him.
Mr. HUBERT. If you will step over here and have a look at this mockup here on the basement area, generally familiarize yourself with it, there is the jail office, and that is the jail elevator, the corridor entrance, the swinging door, the corridor outside the swinging door. There is the flat part of the ramp. There are the two inclines back there. This is the parking area and that is the ramp coming from the parking area to the ramp between Main and Commerce. I have also here a chart which I have marked for purposes of identification, "Dallas, Tex., March 26, 1964. Exhibit 5105, deposition of J. C. Watson." And I have put below it my name and I will ask you to sign your name so that the record may show that we are talking about the same document. Now, looking at the mockup first, I would like you to show me on the mockup where you were standing at the time of the shooting, and if you had changed positions from the time you first went in there indicate that so that we can mark the several positions that you might have been in.
Mr. WATSON. I took a position--you want it here, or over here?
Mr. HUBERT. I want you to fix it.
Mr. WATSON. Generally right here [indicating]. And I had more or less, until we--just previous to the time they brought Oswald down, I did take a point near this corner, out somewhere, a point about like this [indicating].
Mr. HUBERT. Now, I am marking--is this right? Right here?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. I am marking a circle.
Mr. WATSON. Yes.
Mr. HUBERT. At the spot which you have indicated on the mockup?
Mr. WATSON. That is the general place.
Mr. HUBERT. The general place.
Mr. WATSON. More or less milling around from there over to here, 5 or 6 feet until right at the----
Mr. HUBERT. The position I have marked with the circle is the position you were in at the time of the shooting, is that right?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. I have written on the map, "Position of J. C. Watson at time of shooting," and I have encircled it and connected it with a line into the circle


which you have indicated was the position that you were standing in at the moment of the shooting. As I understand your testimony, you were more or less moving up and down along that position?
Mr. WATSON. Well, that would have been previous, until the time they were bringing him down. Right at the moment, the only difference would be we were probably back--I would probably have been back, I would say, level with the curb line, but at the moment they come out the photographers--and there were some photographers right in this corner, and one more officer, I think, to my left, and more or less--we moved forward just probably a couple of feet, or three. We didn't move over 2 or 3 feet.
Mr. HUBERT. You want to make this comment about the position I have marked as your position at the time of the shooting, you say that it is correct, that prior to the shooting you were perhaps 2 or 3 feet----
Mr. WATSON. Two feet.
Mr. HUBERT. Two feet back in the direction of Main Street?
Mr. WATSON. Yes; only because as the photographers come forward, we tend to come forward and kind of----
Mr. HUBERT. So, I am going to mark another circle then about 2 feet. This is not going to be accurate, but the purpose of the circle is to show your position prior to the shooting.
Mr. WATSON. They bring anyone down, people all naturally seem to move forward a little, just close in a little.
Mr. HUBERT. I have written on the map and encircled the following language. "Position of J. C. Watson prior to the shooting." I'll connect that with a circle, does that conform with your understanding of the situation?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, what caused you to move forward in that way?
Mr. WATSON. Just because the photographers and everyone seemed to just move forward a little, just to keep in line.
Mr. HUBERT. As Oswald was coming out?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. So, that accounts for the fact that your position at the moment of shooting was a little further towards Oswald than it would have been had you not moved at all, and that difference is about 2 feet?
Mr. WATSON. Well, I would say not necessarily toward him, just toward the direction he was going.
Mr. HUBERT. He was going; yes. All right, sir. Do you remember who was on your left? What officer was on your left?
Mr. WATSON. I believe Blackie Harrison was on my left, I believe.
Mr. HUBERT. Was any officer on your right?
Mr. WATSON. Not between me and the corner. I don't know whether there was one past the corner of the building between there and the office or not.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you think there was only the two of you, you and Blackie Harrison?
Mr. WATSON. Well, there had been one or two others over there.
Mr. HUBERT. Right. I don't--only you and Harrison keeping back the press from the Main Street ramp area?
Mr. WATSON. Yes.
Mr. HUBERT. Only you two?
Mr. WATSON. Of course, the press was actually in the basement area, and on the fence there on the guard rail and then at the time they had already--so many of them had gotten over the rail, and were just inside on the ramp area.
Mr. HUBERT. I'm going to mark an area just by making a rough oblong figure in which I am writing in the middle "Area A,"' and I ask you if it is that area that you are talking about that you were standing in front of ?
Mr. WATSON. Just practicially; yes. I was in front of, and to the right of it.
Mr. HUBERT. Yes; and how many people do you suppose there were in that area ?
Mr. WATSON. In that "Area A"?
Mr. HUBERT. Back of you and Harrison ?
Mr. WATSON. Not many.


Mr. HUBERT. Not any at all?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. I thought you said they surged forward ?
Mr. WATSON. They are over from this corner, over to about--some point right out here [indicating], and they come over the fence and right in this area right here [indicating]. That----
Mr. HUBERT. Now, I am marking a line with the numbers "1," to "2," encircled, is that the line that you are talking about that depress----
Mr. WATSON. From that point "1" over to just past this corner was the only area that I know of any photographers being in. That is where they were supposed to be. They were all lined on the rail, but at the moment this starts, they crawl through and come forward a little. That is what makes me come forward a little.
Mr. HUBERT. I thought you came forward because of pressure from people behind?
Mr. WATSON. Nobody behind me.
Mr. HUBERT. Nobody at all in here [indicating].
Mr. WATSON. I think one or two, but no officers behind me.
Mr. HUBERT. Did you see Ruby come forward?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. When did you first see Ruby?
Mr. WATSON. I saw him underneath four or five detectives immediately at my feet in front of me after the shooting. Did not see--couldn't have told whether it was white or colored until they had him in the jail office. Four or five detectives completely smothering him. I was standing there watching the crowd, looked down once or twice. Couldn't tell who it was.
Mr. HUBERT. When did you first become aware that there was a shooting?
Mr. WATSON. What do you mean? What are you--How are you going to pinpoint it
Mr. HUBERT. When you heard the shot?
Mr. WATSON. When I heard the shot; yes.
Mr. HUBERT. You didn't see anybody lunge forward?
Mr. WATSON. I glanced at Captain Fritz. I looked at Captain Fritz, just looked at the expression on his face, and I looked at Oswald. Second time I had seen him, just the expression. I noticed the officers behind him back toward the jail office, just a--momentarily, and I heard the shot up there.
Mr. HUBERT. In other words, your head was turned in the direction of the jail office and Ruby apparently came up from your left?
Mr. WATSON. Yes.
Mr. HUBERT. From the direction on your left?
Mr. WATSON. But, your head was turned away from the area?
Mr. WATSON. Glaring spotlight. We looked--straight ahead, to the right, wouldn't look at the bright lights.
Mr. HUBERT. So, you don't know where he came from?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir; I assume where he come from but I don't know where he come from. I know where he had to come from.
Mr. HUBERT. Let's go back to the statement that you made about "Area A," there, which would be area in the basement ramp, but before the incline begins?
Mr. WATSON. Yes; just a flat place there. Starts back somewhere, like you say, back here [indicating].
Mr. HUBERT. You're quite sure there was nobody behind you and Harrison?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir; I wouldn't have left anyone behind us. I mean, we were in a position----
Mr. HUBERT. But I am talking about news media?
Mr. WATSON. That is what I mean, I am facing this way and all the news media was on my left..
Mr. HUBERT. You had your back to the Main Street and----
Mr. WATSON. My back to that----
Mr. HUBERT. And nobody behind you at all?
Mr. WATSON. Nobody behind me except officers at the top of the ramp, that I know of.


Mr. HUBERT. And Blackie Harrison was to your left? How much space between you and Harrison?
Mr. WATSON. Well, sir; he and I were the only two in the ramp opening, in that distance from the corner to here [indicating]. I believe we were the only two and I believe----
Mr. HUBERT. Nobody behind you?
Mr. WATSON. And I believe an officer or two in here [indicating]. I don't remember moving around so much. I mean we didn't take stationary positions designated. Now, we just took positions as we saw fit before they came out.
Mr. HUBERT. Let me mark another circle here, sir. What I am marking is the approximate position of Harrison.
Mr. WATSON. I'd say 3- or 4-foot over.
Mr. HUBERT. Right there [indicating]?
Mr. WATSON. That's right. I would say he would have been a little closer than that.
Mr. HUBERT. I am writing on the map, "Position of Blackie Harrison at time of shooting," and circling that and connecting it with a small circle showing the approximate position of Blackie Harrison. That is your best estimate of where he was?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. He was also facing in the direction of the Commerce Street--with his back toward Main Street?
Mr. WATSON. I would think so. I mean he could have turned a little, you know. I talked to him a couple of times. He was standing parallel just like I am.
Mr. HUBERT. Did you ever glance towards Main Street during the time you were there?
Mr. WATSON. I glanced toward---I'm sure, a couple of times. I remember the car going out.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you know who was driving the car?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir; I don't know that.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you know Lieutenant Rio Pierce?
Mr. WATSON. I believe Lieutenant Pierce was either in it or driving it, yes. I saw him with the car.
Mr. HUBERT. Did they have difficulty getting through the people?
Mr. WATSON. Yes. At what point up there?
Mr. HUBERT. At the point that you were standing?
Mr. WATSON. I would think that there would probably have been two or three reporters here [indicating], and I am sure there were at this point. There was someone that was kind of in the way, and they had to move them, I think. And possibly right on that edge, I think all of the press were either asked or knew to get back at about that time. I think they all got over the rail about that time.
Mr. HUBERT. How long had you been standing in this position before the shooting?
Mr. WATSON. We had been in there somewhere 20 or 25 minutes. I'd say it must have been 35, 30 or 35 minutes.
Mr. HUBERT. Now, do you think that if a man had been coming down the Main Street ramp just 30 seconds to a minute before the shooting you would have heard his footsteps?
Mr. WATSON. I don't think so.
Mr. HUBERT. Why not?
Mr. WATSON. Lots of noise going on there. Another thing, I am kind of hard of hearing in my left ear. That is the reason, I think that I can't hear some of the things that were said--I got it in the Navy.
Mr. HUBERT. In any case, you didn't see anybody at all?
Mr. WATSON. No; I just remember glancing----
Mr. HUBERT. Let me finish my question. Anybody coming down the Main Street ramp?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Nor did you hear them?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir.


Mr. HUBERT. Would you like to have a seat? Do you have anything else you would like to add
Mr. WATSON. No, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Do you consider that everything that you know about this matter is contained in the several reports and letters that have been identified this morning by you?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. And in your deposition?
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Nothing else you know about?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Nothing has been omitted, and there are no corrections you want to make?
Mr. WATSON. Nothing but the FBI where it says "several". There is "one".
Mr. HUBERT. We have already accepted those. That has been noted, of course.
Mr. WATSON. Yes, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. Have you been interviewed by any member of the Commission's staff prior to this deposition this morning?
Mr. WATSON. No, sir.
Mr. HUBERT. That includes me, too.
Mr. HUBERT. Thank you so much, sir.

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