Officer down

Thirty-five years ago, Jesse Curry was Dallas' respected, popular police chief. Then Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, and Curry became just one more victim of the Kennedy assassination.

During the late 1970s, Curry agreed to interviews with conspiracy theorists who saw him as a helpful man, compassionate to their cause. He never ruled out the idea of a second gunman; he simply never had proof anyone but Oswald killed Kennedy. It's possible that he considered the second-gunman theory because it gave him an out: If Oswald didn't act alone, maybe there's someone out there who can take his place in the jail cell Lee Harvey never saw. Maybe the Dallas cops can atone for their sins by catching the other killer.

Or maybe Jesse Curry wasn't done being a cop, and he still liked talking about the events of November 1963--still liked the chase, the adventure of being on the trail of assassins. Even Gene says that his father never stopped being a cop after he retired. Being on the force for 30 years, it was still too much a part of him.

And nobody--not the government that tried to undermine his authority, not the crazies who threatened and blamed him--could take that away from his father.

"Back then, we were considered a bunch of bumpkins who murdered the president," Gene says. "I mean, I didn't care what somebody from New York thought about Dallas, Texas, myself. But I cared about what somebody said about my father."

When asked what best defined Jesse Curry, Gene pauses and smiles. "My Dad loved his men. He loved Dallas. He loved people. And that was probably his weakness. From all the things that transpired, he probably underestimated what could have been done. It was a delegation type of thing, but you have to do that when you're chief of police. And sometimes, when you put a lot of faith in people, you get burned.

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