FOR RELEASE TO ALL MEDIA -- 5 P.M., JANUARY 14, 1967
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EARLE CABELL, MEMBER OF CONGRESS, 5TH DISTRICT, TEXAS, WHO, ON NOVEMBER 22, 1963, WAS SERVING AS MAYOR OF THE CITY OF DALLAS AND WHO WAS IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM AT PARKLAND HOSPITAL FROM THE TIME THAT PRESIDENT KENNEDY AND GOVERNOR CONNALLY WERE BROUGHT IN UNTIL THE BODY OF THE PRESIDENT WAS TRANSPORTED TO LOVE FIELD
Repeated references to the scurriluous charges contained in the Manchester book concerning bitterness, delay and red tape involved in the removal of the President's body compel me, as an eye witness to the events, to set the record straight and to clear those public officials involved who were only carrying out their sworn duties.
Parkland Hospital, as all other hospitals to my knowledge, prohibits the removal of a body from the premises by anyone without a release from the next of kin or other authorized persons. When this was explained to Mrs. Kennedy, there was no unpleasantness whatsoever involved, and she very graciously and promptly signed the release.
The other legal obstacle to the removal of the body from the premises and from the state was the fact that state law prohibits the removal of a body from the state where death was due to violent causes without a release signed by either the Governor of the state, the Lieutenant Governor in his absence, the Attorney General of the state or after a coroner's inquest. The reasoning behind this law, I believe, is obvious to any rational or intelligent person.
The signatures required were obviously impossible to obtain within a reasonable time because the Governor was then in critical condition and undergoing surgery for his wounds. The Lieutenant Governor and the Attorney General were both in Austin awaiting the arrival of the President in that city which was scheduled for the evening of November 22.
The only recently appointed Dallas County Medical Examiner, Dr. Rose, raised the question to the agent in charge who beckoned me to join them in the discussion.
I think that at this point I should mention that immediately upon my joining with those in the anteroom of the emergency room, I had placed my services in any manner required at the disposal of the Secret Service agent in charge, whose name I do not now recall.
Upon being summoned to the conference, the situation was explained and I asked Dr. Rose if he felt that he could conscientiously revert to the older statutes which were still in effect in the smaller communities of the state where there is no Medical Examiner, and accept a release by a qualified Justice of the Peace. I further informed him that I would assume full responsibility for such action on his part.
This was agreed to and since all telephone lines were tied up, I went outside the hospital and by a police motorcycle radio contacted the dispatcher at City Hall. He was requested to locate as quickly as possible any one of the several Justices of the Peace in Dallas County and to see that he had transportation to Parkland Hospital.
Fortunately, J. P. Theron Ward of Garland, Texas (Dallas County) was in the vicinity with his police radio open and he heard the conversation and immediately radioed that he was on his way.
Quite properly, he was required to identify
himself to the hospital which did not consume an unreasonable time and upon
his arrival in the emergency room,
was apprised of the situation and executed such instruments as were required.
Another completely false allegation was that a Dallas city ordinance prohibited the transportation of a casket in an ambulance and further delay was caused while a hearse was summoned.
In the first place, no such ordinance existed.
All of this was cut from the whole cloth. When Funeral Director Vernon O'Neal (Emergency Service Contractor for the city) was requested to bring his finest casket to the hospital, he did so in an immaculate new funeral coach. This coach remained at the hospital until the casket was transported to Love Field. Not one minute of delay was encountered in this transaction.
It is inconceivable to me that such irresponsible statements would be made, unless the intent was not to accurately record history but rather was to deliberately calumniate the people of Dallas and particularly those who were in any way connected with the tragic events of that day.
The distortions and sneering comments on these events ignore completely one basic principle of our Nation.
This is the principle that ours is a government of laws -- not of men.
Those delays referred to were criticized only by those who would have superimposed their own will and selfish desires over duly constituted laws enacted for the protection of the people as a whole.
Those officials who sought to comply with these laws should be publicly commended, not censured.
From the Earl Cabell Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.