Multiple problems with the descriptions of the injuries suffered by Governor Connally and the mislabeling of the presented X-rays strongly suggest that the Parkland physicians doctored their reports to hide an uncomplimentary posture of the victim when shot.
Two Descriptions of the Back Wound
The clinical report by Dr. Shaw on the preoperative treatment of Governor Connally described a sucking chest wound partially relieved by a pressure dressing. A tube was inserted into the chest cavity and the free ended connected to a waterseal bottle. These emergency measures relaxed the respiratory distress. Once in the operating room anesthesia was induced and the wounds were more carefully examined. Shaw found a wound of entrance just to the right of the right scapula. He reported that this wound was "approximately three cm in its longest diameter." The surrounding area was cleansed with Phisohex and Iodine then draped for the initial operation upon the far more serious frontal chest wound.
Perhaps someone from the ballistics community informed Shaw that a wound with a longer dimension equal to the length of the three-centimeter MC bullet indicates a strike by a missile traveling sideways. Under this condition the bullet had insufficient kinetic energy to exit the chest.
Dr. Shaw revised his description of the back wound for his Warren Commission testimonies. On March 23, 1964, Shaw testified in Dallas. He told the commission that Connally had a 1.5-cm roughly elliptical wound of the right posterior shoulder to the left of the right armpit. During his testimony in Washington, D.C. on April 21, 1964, he repeated the earlier description of the wound and added that the bullet did not penetrate the shoulder blade.
Doctor Gregory reported details of the back wound which partially disputed and partially corroborated the description of an elliptical wound by Shaw. In particular, Gregory noted a linear wound with a rounded central portion. This rounding of the central portion of the back wound was not noted on the linear wound of the wrist. By contrast the shape of a simple wound made by a bullet with a considerable yaw angle resembles a rectangle with rounded corners.
Wrist Wounds and the Fractured Radius
Connally suffered two wounds of his right wrist. The larger wound of entry was on the back or the dorsal side of the wrist with the smaller wound of exit on the palm or the volar side of the wrist. Doctor Gregory noted that a larger wound of entry was not at all characteristic.
During his testimony in Dallas on March 23, 1964, Gregory reported the dimensions of the wounds on the opposing sides of the wrist. He gave the longer dimension of the dorsal wound as 2 cm and the longer dimension of the volar wound as 1.5 cm. On April 21, 1964, Gregory more fully described both wounds of the wrist. He reported that the transverse exit wound on the volar side of the wrist resembled a small laceration with dimensions of 1.5 cm by 0.5 cm. The wound of entry on the dorsal side of the wrist was rather linear with dimensions of 2.5 cm by 0.5 cm. He did not mention any rounding of the central portion of the dorsal wound as he did when describing the linear back wound. The disagreement of the longer dimensions of the dorsal wound suggests that Gregory related the wound sizes from memory rather than notes.
Figure 1 - CE 691 Enhanced by LogEtronic
Gregory described the wrist fracture as comminuted. He explained that comminuted means shattered into more than two pieces and counted seven or eight bone fragments on the presented X-rays. During his Warren Commission testimony of March 23, 1964, Shaw corroborated Gregory by describing a compound comminuted fracture of the radius. The description of the comminuted fracture as compound meant that the sharp edge of a recently fractured bone broke the skin and created a wound. On April 21, 1964, Shaw cited the motion of the wrist as evidence of the compound fracture.
Initially Gregory observed metallic fragments on the preoperative X-rays of the wrist. During debridement, he removed a few small fragments of lead found throughout the wrist and the fractured the radius. Gregory volunteered no opinion on whether the bullet deposited or irrigation carried the metal fragments to various positions within the wrist.
Superficial Wound of the Thigh
Dr. Shires in his operative report of November 22, 1963 described a 1-cm punctate wound and debriding the wound track into the muscle. He interpreted an X-ray as showing a small fragment imbedded in the femur. Shires repeated these descriptions during his testimony in Dallas and added his speculations on whether a tangential entry by a whole bullet or a fragment caused the observed peculiarities of this wound.
The description of the wound as punctate means that the abrasion surrounding the bullet hole was spotted. This punctate appearance implied entry by a spent missile with insufficient kinetic energy to produce the solid area of discoloration surrounding a typical bullet hole.
Shaw explicitly attributed the wound in the thigh being considerably longer than the size of the missile to a tangential entry by the bullet.
Prior to surgery, Dr. Gregory carefully observed the bullet hole in the thigh. He noted that the hole was almost round and could see penetration from the skin to the underlying fascia. During his testimony in Washington, D.C., Gregory described a puncture wound on the inner aspect of the thigh and a little toward the front. The wound appeared rounded with a diameter of about 6 mm. This size excluded the surrounding abrasion reported by Shires.
The preoperative X-rays produced by Gregory revealed a shallow fragment inline with the femur and just beneath the skin. These observations contradicted Shires who asserted that the fragment deeply penetrated the thigh and was imbedded in the bone.
The Forensic Pathology Panel dismissed the presumed fragments on the X-rays as artifacts.
Cynics have suggested that the Parkland doctors concocted the story of a fragment in the thigh to reduce the embarrassment of Doctor Shaw who during the Friday afternoon press conference told the World that the bullet is in the leg and will be removed during surgery. This statement is made just beyond five minutes from the start of the linked recording.
Connally's coat had regular defects that conveyed to the analyst valuable information not obtainable from the irregular defects of the shirt. This fortuitous situation made the defects of the coat the preferred garment for comparison with the wounds of the torso.
On the back side of the coat, SA Robert A. Frazier of the FBI Laboratory described a defect that measured approximately five-eights of an inch horizontally by one-quarter of an inch. The one-quarter inch dimension coincided with the diameter of a 6.5-mm bullet and the five-eights inch measurement agreed with the 15-mm dimension of the back wound described by Dr. Shaw in his testimonies. The failure of Frazier to describe the shape of the defect on the rear of the coat as either rectangular or oval allows entry by a bullet with a 30-degree yaw angle or a bullet with negligible yaw angle and an approximate 66-degree incidence angle.
Figure 2 - Front View of Coat
Frazier described a defect on the front of the coat as approximately round with a diameter of three-eights of an inch. The smallness of this hole shown on Figure 2 ensures that only a bullet with negligible yaw could have made this defect.
Frazier measured the angles made by a straight line joining the defect on the rear of Connally's coat with the defect on the front. He found a line sloping leftward from the rear to the front. This line made a 20-degree angle with the sagittal plane of the coat.
The FBI also used these defect on the rear and the front of the coat to calculate the angle made by a straight line joining the entry and the exit wounds with the transverse body plane. A disagreement between the transverse angle for the coat with the transverse angle though the torso shows that the posture of Connally was not relaxed when shot. The straight line joining the defect on the rear of the coat sloped downward toward the defect on the front of the coat. This line made a 35-degree angle with the transverse plane of the coat. The line joining the corresponding defects of the shirt made a lesser 30-degree angle with the same plane. These measurements show that Connally had a strained posture when or immediately before being shot.
Frazier examined the trousers worn by Connally. He found a small circular defect with a diameter of about one quarter inch. This quarter inch defect of the trousers stands with the small 6-mm bullet hole described by Gregory and disputes the suggestion by Shires that a tangential entry caused the 10-mm punctate abrasion which surrounded the bullet hole in the thigh.
The Parkland doctors in the operating room collectively developed the idea that one missile inflicted all the wounds suffered by Connally. Dr. Shires discussed this idea with his assistants, Drs. Baxter, McClelland and Patman. Shires had direct knowledge of similar discussions among Drs. Shaw, Boland and Duke. He surmised that Dr. Gregory, Osbourne and Parker also discussed the wounding. These groups concluded that one bullet inflicted the five wounds suffered by Connally.
Gregory cited progressively less damage from the chest, through the wrist and into the thigh as evidence of wounding by a single bullet. The bullet inflicted considerable damage upon the torso in shattering ten centimeters of the fifth rib and punching a 5-centimeter roughly circular hole in the chest. These injuries consumed a considerable portion of the kinetic energy of the transiting bullet. This less energetic bullet inflicted lesser injury upon the wrist. The wounds of entry and exit were elongated slits and cleaved a few pieces of bone from the radius. These lesser injuries consumed more kinetic energy. The bullet upon striking the thigh had insufficient kinetic energy to produce a solid abrasion and perforate the leg. Instead this spent missile produced a punctate abrasion surrounding the wound track which extended to but not through the muscle.
The report of an initially small tunneling wound by Shaw is evidence of entry and initial transit of the torso by a bullet with negligible angles of yaw and pitch. Coupling these observations of the back wound with the report by Frazier of a round 3/8-inch hole in the front of the coat shows exit by a bullet with negligible angles of yaw and pitch. These observations argue for overall transit of the torso by a properly aligned bullet and explain the absence of metallic fragments in the chest.
Problems arose when the doctors provided further details of the injuries.
The elliptical wound twice described by Shaw and corroborated by Gregory required that the bullet entered the back with an approximate 60° incidence angle as shown on Figure 3. The locations of the back and the chest wounds required that this tangentially entering bullet deflected by an incredible angle of between forty and sixty degrees during transit of the torso. So both the original and the revised descriptions of the back wound are entangled in insoluble problems.
Figure 3 - 60° Incidence Angle
Following the testimony of Shaw on March 23, 1964, Specter and Shaw had a conversation off the record then went back on the record and discussed whether a tumbling bullet struck Governor Connally in the back. Shaw mistakenly associated an elliptical wound with a bullet which had struck something else. This testimony strongly suggests that Doctor Shaw and the authorities reached a compromise. In particular the authorities would forgive doctoring his medical reports in exchange for capitulation to tolerate the SBT.
The locations and dimensions of both wrist wounds and especially the linear shape of the volar wound imply transit by a bullet with a considerable though decreasing angle of yaw. For the dorsal wound the given dimensions imply striking by a bullet with a yaw angle between arcsin ( 2 / 3 ) or forty two degrees and arcsin ( 2.5 / 3 ) or fifty six degrees. Upon exit from the volar side of the dimensions of the wound yield a lesser yaw angle of arcsin ( 1.5 / 3 ) or thirty degrees. The modifications of these calculations to account for the elongation of the wounds by a few tenths of a centimeter due to tangential entry and exit by the yawed bullet would be inconsequential.
However, the ante posterior X-rays of the wrist, CE 691 and CE 692 show no evidence of a yawed bullet having punched a slot with dimensions ranging from 1/4 inch by 1 inch nearer the dorsal side of the wrist to 1/4 inch by 4/5 inch nearer the volar side. Given the locations of these wounds, a slot punched by a yawed bullet would have been seen on the ante posterior X-rays as a through and through gap in the radius. So the failure to see this large void of bone stands in contradiction with the description of the surface wounds.
By contrast, a properly aligned bullet with negligible yaw angle could have tangentially perforated the wrist and tunneled a track with a 1/4 inch diameter through the bone. This bullet track would appear as a narrow strip of lesser opacity on the X-rays..
Apparently Gregory learned by experience that a yawed bullet could produce linear surface wounds and another bullet could tunnel a small cylindrical track through a bone. However, his role as a medical doctor did not require him to analyze whether one wound could embody the special characteristics of two other unrelated wounds. Probably these gaps in his knowledge account for the contradictions in the presented descriptions of wrist wounds.
The X-rays presented by Gregory showing the tiny fragment inline with the femur on some views and just beneath the skin on orthogonal views effectively disproves Shires' claim of a fragment imbedded in the bone. Further the report by Gregory of a 6-millimeter "almost round" thigh wound discredits the speculation by Shires of a tangential entry by the bullet. The implications of these two reports by Gregory consistently point to an unexpected posture for the leg when wounded.
If Connally's left leg were crossed with its calf resting near his right knee then a bullet on an earlier course from below the right nipple and straight through the wrist would strike the inner surface of the left thigh at a small angle of incidence. This trajectory would carry the bullet and any shed fragment closer to the knee while not penetrating toward the bone by a comparable distance.
Perhaps the authorities interpreted this implied posture of Connally as feminine and moved the left leg to a normal masculine position when shot. The problems with Shires' testimony in Dallas and his latter absence from testifying in Washington, D.C. are consistent with this possibility.
When Doctors Shaw, Gregory and Shires testified in Dallas during March 1964 they referenced and did not present easily accessible X-rays to document the injuries suffered by Governor Connally. The following month when Shaw and Gregory packed their evidence and traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify they brought nine X-rays with them.
Figure 4 - X-ray of the Repaired Wrist
Source: Warren Commission testimony of Dr. Robert Roeder Shaw on April 21, 1964 - 4H, 106
Mr. SPECTER. Would it be useful - As to that X-ray, Dr. Shaw, will you tell us what identifying data, if any, it has in the records of Parkland Hospital, for the record?
Dr. SHAW. On this X-ray it has in pencil John G. Connally.
Mr. SPECTER. Is that G or C?
Dr. SHAW. They have a "G" November 22, 1963, and it has a number 218-922.
Despite the confirmation of a "G" by Dr. Shaw, Specter persists to place into the record his reaffirmation of "C" as the middle initial on the X-rays.
Source: WC testimony of Doctor Charles Francis Gregory on April 21, 1964 - 4H, 124
Mr. SPECTER. Have you brought the X-ray with you?
Dr. GREGORY. Yes; I have.
Mr. SPECTER. On what date was that X-ray taken?
Dr. GREGORY. This X-ray is marked as having been taken on November 22, 1963. It indicates that it was made of the left thigh, and it belongs to John Connally, John G. Connally.
Mr. SPECTER. That says "G" instead of "C"?
Dr. GREGORY. Yes. It appears to me to be a "G." The number again is 219-922.
At this point, Specter had manipulated the record to allow him to plead confusion if the credibility of the X-rays were to be challenged.
Skipping ahead a witness to Mrs. Connally shows that Arlen was intent upon expanding his protection.
Source: WC Testimony of Mrs. John Bowden Connally, Jr. on April 21, 1964 - 4H, 146
Mr. SPECTER. Are you the wife of Governor John C. Connally?
Mrs. CONNALLY. No, I am the wife of Governor John B. Connally.
The answer to the first question of the previous witness discredits ignorance as an excuse for Arlen Specter not knowing the middle initial of Governor Connally.
Source: WC Testimony of Gov. John Bowden Connally, Jr. on April 21, 1964 - 4H, 129
Mr. SPECTER. Will you state your full name for the record, please?
Governor CONNALLY. John Bowden Connally.
Four pages earlier in the testimony of Dr. Shaw, Arlen Specter disclosed knowledge of the middle initial of John Connally.
Source: Warren Commission Testimony of Dr. Robert Roeder Shaw on April 21, 1964 - 4H, 102
Mr. SPECTER. Were you called upon to render medical aid to Gov. John B. Connally on that day?
Dr. SHAW. Yes.
I wonder when Arlen Specter stop knowing the middle initial of John Connally?
Forcing Governor Connally's wounds to fit a sitting posture had an embarrassing consequence for Dr. Gregory. He was asked by Specter whether a bullet with a declination angle of forty five degrees could have inflicted Connally's wounds. Gregory had no choice and answered the question affirmatively.
Source: Warren Commission Testimony of Doctor Charles Francis Gregory on April 21, 1964 - 4H, 127
Mr. SPECTER - Dr. Gregory, could all of the wounds which were inflicted on the Governor, that is those described by Dr. Shaw and those which you have described during your testimony, have been inflicted from one missile if that missile were a 6.5 millimeter bullet fired from a weapon having a muzzle velocity of approximately 2,000 feet per second at a distance of approximately 160 to 250 feet, if you assumed a trajectory with an angle of decline approximately 45 degrees?
Dr. GREGORY - I believe that the three wounds could have occurred from a single missile under these specifications.
Dr. Gregory was no dummy. Without doubt, he could have solved the eleventh-grade problem of the isosceles right triangle and mentally calculated the height of the muzzle above Connally as between 160 sin ( 45 ) or 112 foot and 250 sin ( 45 ) or 175 foot. By contrast the sniper in their nest on the sixth floor of the TSBD was less than 70 foot above their victim.