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Badge Man is the name given to a photographic image that some researchers into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy argue is possible evidence of an unidentified shooter on the "grassy knoll" in Dealy Plaza, in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.
The image in question is part of a Polaroid photograph taken by Mary Moorman as President Kennedy's motorcade drove through Dealey Plaza, when shots were fired and Kennedy sustained a fatal head wound.
The "Badge Man" photo sparked the conspiracy theory that three Dallas police officers killed Kennedy instead of Oswald. However, skeptics have argued that the "Badge Man" image is not of a man, but sunlight reflected from a soda bottle; and furthermore that the alleged Badge Man shooter would have been in an impossible position to fire a weapon at the motorcade.
During the Presidential motorcade, Moorman took several Polaroid photos. Her photos captured images of all of the Presidential limousine occupants, several other close witnesses (including Abraham Zapruder filming), two Dallas police motorcycle Presidential escorts, and much of the area comprising the grassy knoll. The Badge Man photo, Moorman's fifth, has been calculated to have been captured between the Zapruder film equivalent concurrent frames of Z-315 and 316 (less than one-sixth of a second after President Kennedy was struck in the head at Z-313). On the actual Polaroid photo, the area that the Badge Man appears within is about one-quarter inch square.
In 1982 Gary Mack, the longtime curator and archivist for The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (the former Texas School Book Depository) first claimed to discover the "Badge Man" image. He labeled this image Badge Man because the image shows what Mack interpreted as a uniformed police officer standing behind a 3.3 feet (1.0 m) high cement retaining wall, and wearing dark clothing with a police patrolman’s metal badge on his chest, with his face obscured by muzzle flash or smoke from having just discharged a firearm.
Other researchers have claimed that the "Badge Man" image is the sun-reflected outline of a soda pop bottle sitting atop the cement retaining wall. Marilyn Sitzman, who was standing a few yards from the retaining wall, saw a young black couple eating lunch on a bench behind that wall, and heard a soda bottle crash just after the motorcade passed by. Photos and films immediately afterwards do show a bottle sitting atop the retaining wall. Meyers argues that analysis of the photo reveals that "if [Badge Man were] truly a human being of average height and build, [he] was located 32 feet behind the fence line and elevated 4.5 feet above the ground - an unreasonable and untenable firing position."
The House Select Committee on Assassinations sent a high-quality negative of the photo to the Rochester Institute of Technology; after enlarging the photo, no evidence of a person on the retaining wall was found. The area around the stockade fence was so underexposed, that it was deemed impossible to examine.
In the mid-1980s, assassination researcher Jack White (who testified to the House Select Committee on Assassinations) enhanced the immediate photograph area of the "Badge Man" in contrast and brightness, then he enhanced further with what White has described as “clear photographic colored oils” to illustrate the "Badge Man". White's enhancement first appeared publicly in the 1988 documentary The Men Who Killed Kennedy.
To the anatomical right (photo left) of the supposed "Badge Man" some researchers claim there is also seen a second person, self-proclaimed witness Gordon Arnold, who claimed in 1978 that he was filming the motorcade while wearing his US Army uniform when a shot passed close to his left ear. A third person claimed by researchers to be seen is a construction hard hatted accomplice to "Badge Man's" anatomical left (photo right) facing the general direction of the book depository.
Also claimed seen in the Moorman Polaroid photo by conspiracy theorists is the hatted head of a person located about 13 feet (3.9 m) west of the grassy knoll stockade fence corner (a different location from the "Badge Man"). This corresponds with an area where overpass witnesses stated they observed gunsmoke and where footprints in the mud directly behind a station wagon backed up to the stockade fence that also had shoe-bottom mud scraped off onto the station wagon’s rear bumper, cigarette butts, and muddy footprints 2.5 feet (0.75 m) up on a picket fence cross-beam support. This is part of the "grassy knoll" area in which the second major Kennedy assassination government investigation, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, determined that a shot was fired. However, that conclusion was based on an audio recording which critics say emanated from a different part of the city and was analysed using flawed methodology.
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