Mantik's Misuse of Witnesses Who Said That the Limousine Stopped

     On page 274 of the book Assassination Science Dr. David Mantik uses a list of witnesses to advance the notion that the limousine had stopped on Elm Street and because we can not see that happen in the Zapruder film that therefore the Zapruder film must have been edited. There are several problems with that argument. First, the point at which the limousine stopped may have been before or after Zapruder had filmed the limousine. Zapruder only started picking up the limousine at Z-133, so if the limousine had stopped prior to Z-133, his film would not have shown it. From Z-1 to Z-132 Zapruder had only filmed the lead cycles, mistakenly thinking that the motorcade was about to round the corner from Houston onto Elm Street. When he realized his mistake, he stopped filming at Z-132 and began filming again when he actually saw the Presidential limousine coming down Elm Street which started the continuous sequence at Z-133. If Zapruder had filmed continuously from the time he saw the lead cycles, he feared that he would run out of film before he could have filmed the limousine going down Elm Street. There is no indication that there was an edit between Z-132 and Z-133 and every indication that there was not an edit at that time. Other films and photos taken from other angles do not show the limousine stopping before Z-133. Could the limousine have stopped after Zapruder stopped filming? Yes, but such a stop would not advance Mantik's argument. If the limousine had stopped inside the triple underpass, it could not have been seen from Zapruder's viewpoint. Thus there would have been nothing on his film to edit out. Films and photos taken from other angles show that the limousine did not stop in the underpass.

     Another problem with Mantik's approach is that eyewitness testimony is unreliable. One can simply not point out a statement by a witness and accept that as absolute proof of a fact. It needs to be corroborated, especially with physical evidence such as photographic evidence. And some authors, in their haste to prove a pre-conceived conclusion, misuse the eyewitness testimony they select, or select only the eyewitness testimony which supports their conclusion. For example, Mantik quotes both motorcycle officers Baker and Chaney as stating that the limousine stopped. But Baker was only stating what Chaney had told him, as Sylvia Meagher points out in her book Accessories After the Fact on page 4, which is quoted here:


  Lane's allegation about Chaney is corroborated in the testimony of another
  motorcycle officer, M. L. Baker. Baker testified on March 24, 1964 that his
  fellow officer, James Chaney, had told him:
    He was on the right rear of the car or to the side, and then at the time the
    chief of police, he didn't know anything about this, and he moved up and
    told him, and then that was during the time that the Secret Service men
    were trying to get in the car, and at the time, after the shooting, from the
    time the first shot rang out, the car stopped completely, pulled to the left
    and stopped. . . . Mr. Truly was standing out there, he said it stopped.
    Several officers said it stopped completely. (3H 266)
There is nothing wrong with the use of such hearsay to corroborate Chaney's statement, but it is a misuse of research method to cite both as separate witnesses to the same fact. One could easily puff up the number of witnesses by adding in everyone who had heard the original witnesses state something. But why would Mantik need to use Baker's hearsay when he quotes Chaney's statement and even cites it as Warren Commission (WC) testimony? Because Chaney NEVER testified before the Warren Commission. The reference to the WC hearings at (3H221) is totally fictitious. When you look at page 275, you can see that (3H221) is Truly's WC testimony, which does not even mention Chaney. It appears that the attribution of (3H221) to Chaney was a simple tabulation error. Either Mantik or his source probably just wrote down the wrong citation on separate lists and did not carefully compare and fact check them. If the error was Mantik's then we should expect a quick and simple correction. If Mantik had merely copied someone else's error, this points up one major problem in this area of research. Too many researchers make the mistake of taking for granted the "facts" presented by a fellow researcher who happens to belong to the same clique, without bothering to double-check the facts for themselves. They don't want to risk angering fellow clique members by questioning their work. This is how simple errors are perpetuated into "facts." Another common misuse of eyewitness testimony is to misquote or quote out of context what the witness actually said, in order to create a false impression. Mantik, as well as others, has done this with the testimony of Patrolman Brown. He only quotes the portion of WC testimony where Brown said, "when the shots were fired, it stopped." (6H233) Mantik should have included the next few sentences where Brown backed off that absolute statement and could only state for sure that the limousine slowed down:
  Brown: Actually, the first I noticed the car was when it stopped. . . . After
  it made the turn and when the shots were fired, it stopped.
  Ball: Did it come to a complete stop?
  Brown: That, I couldn't swear to.
  Ball: It appeared to be slowed down some? 
  Brown: Yes; slowed down. (6H 233)
So, in his zeal to puff up the list of witnesses, Mantik has included people who did not actually state that they had seen the limousine stop. Yes, several people stated that they saw the limousine stop, but not as many as Mantik has suggested. And we already know from other witness statements that some witnesses were simply mistaken when they stated that they saw something, such as Jean Hill seeing a dog in the back seat of the limousine.

     Another problem in this research area is when an author misuses other researchers' work. The way that Mantik characterizes Vince Palamara's article from The Third Decade (page 51) leaves the impression that Palamara claimed (and that Mantik concurs) there were at least 48 witnesses who said that the limousine stopped on Elm Street. This is incorrect. When you actually read Vince's article for yourself, you can see that Vince clearly admits at the beginning of the article that he is lumping together ALL witnesses, including some who said that the limo had come to a complete stop, some who said that the limo had slowed down, and those who said that the limo did not accelerate until after the head shot. Mantik did not dare to quote Vince's article so that you could find this out for yourself. I will:

     ". . . the vast number of witnesses who testified that the Presidential
      limousine, driven by veteran Secret Service driver William R. Greer,
      slowed, stopped or, at the very least, failed to accelerate until only
      after the fatal head shot had found its mark."
So, out of 47 witnesses listed in Vince's article, how many actually stated that the limousine made a complete stop? I went through his article and noted how many actually stated that the limousine made a complete stop. I had to throw out a few witnesses because it was not clear that they meant the limousine when they talked about the 'party' or the 'cavalcade' stopping. We know that some witnesses were referring only to the rest of the motorcade, and the photographic evidence shows that several cars further back in the motorcade did stop in the middle of Elm Street. Out of the remaining 41 witnesses, only 14 actually stated that the limousine stopped. 19 of the 41 only stated that the limousine had slowed down, and 8 of the 41 only stated that the limousine had waited until after the head shot to accelerate. I have drawn up a chart (see below) which places the witnesses in the various categories. The chart has no statistical significance, but it seems evident that more witnesses only stated that the limousine slowed down than those who were sure that it stopped. The Zapruder film itself, as well as other films, corroborates that the limousine was going very slowly when it rounded the corner onto Elm Street. And the Zapruder film itself, as shown by the Alvarez study, corroborates that the limousine had suddenly slowed down at about Z-300 from about 12 MPH to about 8 MPH.

     Mantik's obvious errors are another reason why a book like Assassination Science suffers from the lack of proofreading and fact checking (just like Posner's Case Closed). The innocent reader would not have the means to spot such obvious errors and thus would be impressed by the false conclusions based on faulty data.

41 witnesses  | limo stopped (14)   | limo slowed down (19)   |limo waited (8)  
After the     |Chaney, Mrs. Cabell, |Brown, Harkness,Moorman, |
first shot    |Woodward, Truly      |Hawkins,Brehm, Yarborough|
        (13)  |                 (4) |Jean Hill, Ready, Similas|
              |                     |                   (9)   |
At the time of|Hargis, Foster, Smith|Campbell, Holmes, Clark, |Kinney, Hill,
the head shot |Broeder, Mrs. Willis |Clay, Powers             |Bennett, Nellie,
        (18)  |                 (5) |                   (5)   |Altgens, Chism,
              |                     |                         |O'Donnell, 
              |                     |                         |Connally   (8)
At underpass  | Betzner, Newman (2) |                         |
Unspecified   | Martin, Burney, Orr |Jackson, Johns, Lawson,  |
        (8)   |                 (3) |Holland, Simmon    (5)   |