DALLAS (AP) — The man in the cowboy hat seen handcuffed to Lee Harvey Oswald in the iconic photo of Oswald being shot by Jack Ruby has been honored for his decades of service to the Dallas police force and community.
Detective Jim Leavelle, who is 92 and long-retired, was given the Police Commendation Award. Police Chief David Brown said the department’s Detective of the Year Award also carries Leavelle’s name.
Leavelle joined the police force in April 1950 and retired from active service in April 1975. He was among the lead detectives assigned to investigate the Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Officer J.D. Tippit was shot and killed by Oswald.
Leavelle saw an armed Jack Ruby approach in the basement of Dallas police headquarters, and he tried unsuccessfully to jerk Oswald behind him to shield him from harm.
“Him being real close, all I did was turn his body so instead of the bullet hitting him dead center it hit about 3 or 4 inches to the left of the navel,” Leavelle said.
The iconic photo that captured the attack won a Pulitzer Prize.
“You don’t stop and think,” Leavelle said. “You have to react.”
Leavelle also survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.