Can Laser Scanning Help Uncover Clues to JFK's Assassination?
A TV special will air at 9 p.m. Nov. 13 on PBS Nova and PBS internationally in November, coinciding with the 50-year anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The program will devote a section to the use of Leica ScanStation P20 in Dealey Plaza where Kennedy was killed as well as inside the building where a sniper (Lee Harvey Oswald) was positioned.
Leica Geosystems explains why 3D laser scanning is invaluable in shooting incidenct reconstructions here.
Michael Haag, a private consultant and a forensic scientist, has been using Leica 3D laser scanning technology for nearly a decade for shooting incident reconstructions. He worked on the recent reconstruction of ballistic evidence from the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy for the PBS NOVA documentary.
Leica says Haag traveled to Dealey Plaza, the location of the JFK assassination, where he was joined by Tony Grissim of Leica Geosystems, a technical advisor for the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners. Using a Leica ScanStation PS20, the team spent an entire day collecting laser scan data from the plaza and from inside the Texas School Book Depository (now known as The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza) where the shooting is said to have taken place. The use of laser scanning provided a new level of information that wasn’t available to investigators 50 years ago.
“When I want to look at some new hypothesis or some new conspiracy theory about what happened, I don’t have to go back to the scene; I can just go to my computer and start clicking on scan data to look at distances and angles, and start to compare those points and angles to what I know occurred ballistically,” Haag says. “A lot of the conspiracy theories that people throw out there really haven’t been tested with the physical parameters of the scene. They just throw these ideas out there and hope someone will believe in them. With the scan data, once you go in and start either putting yourself in a particular viewpoint or extracting these measurements, it’s pretty easy to begin knocking some of those theories down … or see what is possible.”
Visit Leica's website to listen to a podcast interview with Michael Haag to learn how he uses laser scanning in shooting reconstruction and get behind-the-scenes details from the reconstruction of the JFK assassination.
The program description for the JFK documentary from PBS' website says: "Fifty years later, what can science tell us about the Kennedy assassination—and the investigations that followed? The 1963 murder, in broad daylight in front of hundreds of witnesses, might seem to be a homicide investigator’s best-case scenario. Yet somehow the JFK assassination became a forensic nightmare, plagued by a controversial autopsy and, incredibly, a prime suspect murdered on live television while in police custody, before he could be tried. As a result, today millions of Americans suspect a conspiracy. Now, NOVA launches a fresh investigation into the physical evidence, using state-of-the-art forensics, including laser scanning, new ballistics tests, and a 3D digital reconstruction of the president's skull, all to try to solve the murder of the century. “Cold Case JFK”is part of series of specials airing on PBS in November to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death."