Mary Ann Moorman, an eyewitness to the assassination equipped with a Polaroid camera, was positioned in a strategic location in Dealey Plaza. She was standing with her friend, Jean Hill, across the street from and southwest of the Depository. Consequently, as she took a picture of the approaching motorcade the Book Depository formed the backdrop. Her camera was aimed, providentially, a trifle higher than the occasion demanded, and her photograph therefore contained a view of the sixth-floor of the building, including the alleged assassination window.
Mrs Moorman thus became a most important witness and her photograph an essential part of the evidence. Her presence at the scene and the fact that she did take the picture were vouched for by Mrs Hill when she testified before a Commission attorney. An FBI report filed by two agents discloses that they both interviewed Mrs Moorman on November 22. On that same day she signed an affidavit for the Dallas Sheriff’s office. Deputy Sheriff John Wiseman submitted a report in which he said that he talked with Mrs Moorman that afternoon and that he took the picture from her. Wiseman stated that in examining the picture he could see the sixth-floor window from which the shots purportedly were fired. ‘I took this picture to Chief Criminal Deputy Sheriff, Allan Sweatt, who later turned it over to Secret Service Officer Patterson,’ Wiseman said. A report submitted by Sweatt reveals that he also questioned Mrs Moorman and Mrs Hill on November 22 and that he received and examined the photograph. Sweatt said that ‘this picture was turned over to Secret Service Agent Patterson‘.
Since Mrs Moorman had used a Polaroid camera, the consequences were twofold: she was able to see the picture before it was taken from her by the police; she was not able to retain a negative. She told the FBI that the picture showed the Book Depository in the background, a fact confirmed by the two deputy sheriffs who also saw it.
Mrs Moorman was a witness with inordinately pertinent evidence to offer. Pictures of her in the act of photographing the motorcade appear in the volumes of evidence published by the Commission and in the Warren Commission Report itself. Yet the Report makes no mention of her or of her photograph; her name does not appear in the index to the Report. Although the Commission published many photographs, some of doubtful pertinency, it refused to publish the picture that possibly constituted the single most important item of evidence in establishing Oswald’s innocence or guilt.
If the photograph depicted Oswald and his rifle at the window, may we not confidently presume that it would have been published? The Commission stated that it refrained from publishing certain exhibits only if they were ‘of negligible relevance‘ and ‘because of their length or for reasons of taste‘. A photograph of the sixth-floor window was quite obviously of relevance and was not too long. Nor could it be held to be offensive to ‘taste’, unless, as I hardly think likely, the overthrow of a theory issued as fact by seven august men could so qualify it.
Examination of another Commission explanation relating to the disposition of the evidence discloses the assertion that all items of evidence ‘which are relied upon in this report‘ were published. This last explanation seems the most appropriate: the Moorman photograph was not ‘relied upon’ and was therefore suppressed.
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