"JFK Revisited" Misleads on JFK's Throat Wound
Updated: Dec 10, 2021
Oliver Stone's so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, alleges that the wound in JFK's throat was one of entrance. The preponderance of evidence indicates it was a exit wound. In fact, every forensic pathologist who has examined the autopsy X-rays and photographs believes it is an exit wound.
Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (38:32)
Whoopi Goldberg: After Air Force One left Dallas for Washington, two of the key doctors who had tried to save Kennedy's life at Parkland Hospital held a press conference. They were Dr. Malcolm Perry and Dr. Kemp Clark.
Oliver Stone: What were the two major points of evidence that were revealed by Kemp Clark and Malcolm Perry at the press conference?
Dr. Gary Aguilar: Dr. Perry performed the tracheotomy to help Kennedy breathe and at a press conference, right after the failed resuscitation efforts in Dallas, he was asked, well where was the bullet? And he says, well the bullet looked like it was coming at him. he had an entrance wound in the throat.
The film presents a short screen shot from the transcript of the press conference held at Parkland hospital at 2:16 PM in Dallas;
QUESTION: Can’t we clear this up just a little more? In your estimation, was there one or two wounds? Just give us something.
DR. MALCOM PERRY: I don’t know. From the injury, it is conceivable that it could have been caused by one wound, but there could have been two just as well if the second bullet struck the head in addition to striking the neck, and I cannot tell you that due to the nature of the wound. There is no way for me to tell.
QUESTION: Doctor, describe the entrance wound. You think from the front in the throat?
DR. MALCOM PERRY: The wound appeared to be an entrance wound in the front of the throat; yes, that is correct. The exit wound, I don’t know. It could have been the head or there could have been a second wound of the head. There was not time to determine this at the particular instant.
I don't think that there is any doubt that when Dr. Perry saw the throat wound that he believed it was one of entrance. But he wasn't performing an autopsy, he was frantically trying to save the life of President Kennedy. He only saw the wound for a few seconds -- it certainly wouldn't be the first time that an attending physician's initial viewpoint would ultimately be contradicted by the autopsy.
I never thought there was all that much mystery to the throat wound. No forensic pathologist who has examined the autopsy X-rays and photographs believes the throat wound to be one of entrance.
Dr. Cyril Wecht reviewed the autopsy X-rays and photographs in 1972. Here is an illustration from Dr. Wecht's article on the medical evidence:
Here is Wecht's diagram of the back wound:
He said that he "gave it [the throat wound] a cursory glance."
Perry was specifically asked about the throat wound:
And as to the origin of the bullet?
Perry says, "full-jacketed bullets make pretty small entrance holes."
Dr. Perry: As I testified, I made only a cursory examination of the head, and the only person that made the really detailed examination, as far as I know, is Dr. Clark. And I didn't -- like Dr. Jones. I didn't look at it. I was in some kind of hurry.
The neck wound -- very few people saw that. I didn't even wipe the blood off on the right side, so I estimated it at five millimeters or so of exuding blood and I cut right through it, as Dr. Jones knows, so nobody else saw it after that. It was small, I didn't examine it. I could see that he had one. I mentioned the avulsive wound to the head and what appeared to be some brain tissue and that was during the course of resuscitation, but I didn't examine it.
Mr. Gunn: Talk briefly about the neck wound, if we could. Dr. Perry, do you think that you were the one who probably had the best view of the neck wound?
Dr. Perry: I'm the one that stuck my foot in my mouth, but actually it looked like an entrance wound and the bullet appeared to be coming at him and I based that mainly on the fact that it was a small wound to the neck and without any other information.
I prefaced those comments at the press conference both before and after by saying that neither Dr. Clark nor I knew how many bullets there were or where they came from. Unfortunately, my comment said it's an entrance wound, and that was taken out of context of the others, but I did say that small wound.
As I mentioned earlier, however, I didn't take any measurements. I didn't wipe the blood off. I just went through it and it was the thing to do at the time; had no concept about legal things. We did what we were trained to do.
On page 67, Dr. Jones mentions that after his testimony to the Warren Commission, Arlen Specter followed him out into the hall to tell him that they were convinced the shot came from behind. Jones said that Specter asked him not to say anything about the wound. He told the ARRB, "I don't know whether you construe that as pressure or not, but certainly I was surprised that he said don't say about -- anything about that to anyone." And so they asked Dr. Perry if any pressure had been put on him:
Dr. Perry: At the time of the Warren Commission -- it's in those 26 volumes somewhere -- they took the limousine apart completely and put it back together. I was told that in Washington and at the time of my testimony. And it was interesting several of the members of the committee did not know that they had done that, and there was gilding metal found on the inside of the limousine, which was fragment, too, which had to come from behind because there was no hole in the windshield. But they took that whole thing apart, as you know, Mr. Gunn, and put it back together, so it was carefully looked at.
Apropos, that you asked Dr. Jones, I had exactly the opposite experience. I was advised by almost everybody I talked to, Secret Service, FBI, and the Warren Commission counsel to tell the truth as best I knew it in its entirety and to hold nothing back on every occasion, and that occurred on a number of occasions that they asked me to be sure that it was everything as best I knew it no matter what. So I can say at least for me they seemed to make every effort to get at --
Mr. Gunn: Uh-huh
Dr. Perry: -- the truth.
Dr. Peters: I certainly agree with that.
There is a reason why we have autopsies. Here is an article that examines the differences between clinical and postmortem diagnoses.
"Discrepancies between premortem and postmortem diagnoses were determined in 20.6% of cases. 5.9% had a main diagnostic discrepancy and 14.7% were of second lethal diagnoses. The discrepancies were observed mostly in the multiple injury cases. In our study, diagnostic discrepancy rate was higher in multiple injury cases especially who died by explosion. When clinicians focus on the treatment according to their main diagnosis, they overlook the fatal injuries in other parts of the body."
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that "the odds that a trauma specialist will correctly interpret certain fatal gunshot wounds are no better than the flip of a coin." The study looked at 46 cases and found there were 16 errors in differentiating between entrance and exit wounds. See "Clinicians' Forensic Interpretations of Fatal Gunshot Wounds Often Miss the Mark" JAMA, 28 April, 1994, pp. 2058-2061. This is one of the reasons why forensic pathologists conduct autopsies.
"THE ODDS that a trauma specialist will correctly interpret certain fatal gunshot wounds are no better than the flip of a coin, according to a recent study at a level 1 trauma center. The study, which looked at single, perforating (exiting) gunshot wounds and multiple gunshot wounds, found that trauma specialists made errors in 52% of the cases, either in differentiating the entrance and exit wound, or in determining the number of bullets that struck the victim."
JFK Revisited does not tell the entire truth about the wound in Kennedy's throat. The preponderance of evidence indicates it was an exit wound.
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