TESTIMONY OF LT. RIO S. PIERCE beginning at 7H76...
The testimony of Lt. Rio S. Pierce was taken at 11:25 a.m., on April 9, 1964, in the office of the U.S. attorney, 301 Post Office Building, Bryan and Ervay Streets, Dallas, Tex. by Mr. John Hart Ely, member of the staff of the President's Commission.
Mr. ELY. Would you stand and be sworn?
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. PIERCE. I do.
Mr. ELY. Lieutenant, I am here as a representative of the President's Commission which is looking into all the facts surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy, and we have been informed that you might have information which would help us in this inquiry.
Mr. ELY. Would you state your full name, please?
Mr. PIERCE. Rio Sam Pierce.
Mr. ELY. And where do you live?
Mr. PIERCE. 3227 South Edgefield.
Mr. ELY. Could you tell us what your occupation is?
Mr. PIERCE. Officer--police officer.
Mr. ELY. And what rank do you hold?
Mr. PIERCE. Lieutenant.
Mr. ELY. You are a lieutenant with the Dallas Police Department?
Mr. PIERCE. That's right.
Mr. ELY. Could you tell us something about what you did before you started to work for the police department?
Mr. PIERCE. Well, I was raised on a farm out in West Texas and engaged in farming practically all of my life up until I went in the Marine Corps. After I got out of the Marine Corps in 1946, in April I believe it was, I came to the Dallas Police Department in August 1946.
Mr. ELY. Could you tell us, please, what your job is? What do you specialize in with the police department?
Mr. PIERCE. I am assigned as a lieutenant in the patrol division out of the central station.
Mr. ELY. Now, were you on duty on November 22, 1963?
Mr. PIERCE. I was not.
Mr. ELY. Were you in Dallas on that date?
Mr. PIERCE. Part of the day. I went to Ennis, Tex., early that morning and returned to Dallas about---oh, it was approximately 1 or 1:30 p.m.
Mr. ELY. Did you have anything to do with the investigation of the killing of either President Kennedy or Officer Tippit?
Mr. PIERCE. No, sir.
Mr. ELY. I will show you three exhibits, one is a map designated Putnam Exhibit No. 1. The other two are designated Sawyer Deposition Exhibits A and B, and are copies of the Dallas Police Department's radio logs for November 22, 1963.
If you will for the moment assume that Officer Tippit was assigned to patrol the district marked No. 78 on Putnam Exhibit No. 1. Can you explain why, subsequent to the shooting of the President, Officer Tippit would be in the district marked 109---specifically at the corner of Lancaster and Eighth--at 12:54 p.m., and then would later have proceeded into district 91, which is the area in which he was shot and killed?
Will you look at these radio logs to see if you can find any calls which would lead him to take this route? Use any other information at your disposal to explain to us why he would have gone out of district 78 and over into Nos. 109 and 91?
Mr. PIERCE. Well, I see one transmission here that I think would have alerted any officer knowing the fact that the President was in town, at 12:43--I believe this occurred on channel 1--this was taken from channel 1 recordings at 12:43. It says, "Attention all squads of downtown area, code 3 to Elm and Houston with caution."
Mr. ELY. Explain what code 3 means.
Mr. PIERCE. That's an emergency. In other words, that is, we have code 1, which is normal driving; we have code 2, and a code 3. In other words, code 3 is your top--proceed with haste and caution. The transmission followed that at 12:44, "Attention all squads, the suspect in the shooting at Elm and Houston is reported to be an unknown white male," and gives the description here would also be an indication to the squads, and reading this--and I assume that this is the way it came out--a man would have to draw his own judgment, because it hasn't told you yet that the President has been shot, but I would think that any normal police officer would assume that there had been something pertaining to that, probably, and it would be normal procedure for him working in the district he is working in to pull into a closer area to the downtown area, and this district 109, which is, I believe you stated, that as being at Eighth and Lancaster--it doesn't show here on your map, but you have no viaduct--that's about the only place you can cross that river, unless you want to wade.
Mr. ELY. Could you mark on the exhibit with your red pencil where that viaduct would be?
Mr. PIERCE. Well, you see, Cadiz Street over here in the downtown area--it also crosses this river and comes on out--may or may not be nearly correct--it isn't too far from wrong--I don't think so--there is two viaducts.
Mr. ELY. The red mark you have just drawn is what?
Mr. PIERCE. The red mark is one viaduct that crosses that river and the area where he was at that time, I will just have to use this--Lancaster Street comes in something like that--it isn't marked on here.
Mr. ELY. All right.
Mr. PIERCE. But, he wouldn't be too far from that Cadiz Street viaduct. Anyway, they come over that Cadiz Street viaduct, and also you have quite a few apartment houses along there on Lancaster and Marsalis. In other words, there is a large number of people that live over in there. That seemed to me like he was probably using pretty good judgment in getting in that particular area because he would have a chance there to assist from the downtown area there.
Mr. ELY. This transmission to which you referred, the one appearing at 12:43 p.m. on Sawyer Deposition Exhibit B, purports to be directed only to all squads in the downtown area?
Mr. PIERCE. That's right.
Mr. ELY. But you think it would be normal even for those squads not located in the downtown area to react?
Mr. PIERCE. I would have to call on my experience in the Dallas Police Department. Under normal police procedure we request that the squads stay in their district, but under any emergency situation we do not require that they stay in their district.
Mr. ELY. So, you would characterize this as a normal course of behavior?
Mr. PIERCE. It looks like a normal procedure to me.
Mr. ELY. All right. Do you think of anything else that you would want to mention in connection with this, or do you think that just about covers it?
Mr. PIERCE. Well, like I say, I was on my day off and I would just have to assume what was happening, but I don't know anything in connection with Tippit, but in this location, if that is what you are interested in, that would not be unusual.
Mr. ELY. Well, that's what we are interested in. Thank you very much.
Mr. PIERCE. All right, thank you.