April 3rd, 2008
06:57 PM ET

At the police radio in Memphis when the call came in...

Editor’s note: B. Venson Hughes worked at the Memphis Police Department. He was working the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. 40 years later, he shares his experience here:

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, I look back and still remember that evening very vividly. I was the Police communications officer on duty when the words came over the radio saying, "Tact 10, we have information that Dr. King has been shot". Our response was immediate. We started to seal off the area around the Lorraine Hotel so no one could enter or leave. In just a few minutes, officers advised they had found the weapon on S. Main Street, just a block away from the shooting scene. The security perimeter was expanded to include those Main Street buildings. I am convinced our officers missed Ray coming out of the rooming house by seconds.


Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968.

Those first moments set off the largest manhunt ever conducted in the U.S. It involved thousands of law enforcement personnel in this country and four or five other countries. Since retiring, I have been collecting all of the original investigative documents I could find in order to preserve the historic value of the investigation. As I collected information, I had occasion to see the many "mis-truths" others had written about the assassination to sell their books. I also found many unanswered questions among the investigative documents. Having an unanswered question does not, necessarily, imply anything nefarious. It simply means issues exists that have not been fully resolved. We may never know the complete truth surrounding the events of April 4, 1968 but we should not stop looking.

– B. Venson Hughes, Memphis Police Department (retired)

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Debra

    I have a question , Was John mcCain against the king holiday in 1983 ? If so what changed his mind , If it was changed and if not why is he in Memphis today .

    April 4, 2008 at 12:48 pm |
  2. Richard Staniszewski

    I watched with great interest the CNN coverage of the MLK assasination. Of particular interest was the information about the mysterious "Raoul" and the implication that the US Army Military Intelligence may of had some input into this tragedy. I was drafted in 1971 and opted to enter the US Army Military Intel group. I completed my intell training at Ft Huachuca, AZ and my first assignment was Vietnam. I was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th MI Group which was located in Bien Hua Airport, Vietnam. At that time, the Battalion Executive Officer (XO) was a MAJ Raul Macius who was a hispanic Army officer. I was subsequently assigned to Lai Khe which was about 35 miles north of Saigon. I spent 10 months in Vietnam and was there for the 1972 Easter Offensive. I was then assigned to the US Army Intel Center, Fort Holabird, MD where I once again ran into MAJ Raul Macius. Whether there is any connection I don't know but it makes for interesting reading. MAJ Macius was already in his 30's when I met him in Vietnam.

    April 4, 2008 at 8:30 am |
  3. latacah

    It's a shame that justice could not be served 40 years ago. We had the some of the same resources then and the same people to make it happen...the problem is we just didn't have the HEART and those that did is dead today.

    April 4, 2008 at 8:13 am |
  4. Thomas Groves

    Yes I appreciate what Anderson Cooper and CNN for showing this on National TV (assacination of Martin Luther King) and getting really deep into what possibly happened that day. I just think its really sad that people hate so much that they would got to the extremes to kill someone as passionate and driven to help and heal a nation. I just think ( in my opinion) that our goverment is so corrupt and cover what they want up and just give us just enough information to keep us passified.They say James Earl Ray killed Martn Luther King but what was his motive? He never talked about Martin Luther King in his letters diary. He was a bank robber for god sakes. If he did I think the goverment paid him to do it.

    April 4, 2008 at 3:10 am |
  5. Rudolph

    Anderson, Soledad, Thank you. I think America thanks you also!

    April 3, 2008 at 11:05 pm |
  6. April in Texas

    My husband was turning a year old the day MLK was killed and I can 1 year and 1 week later. Its sad to say the least but its nice to know our history on these tragic events.

    April 3, 2008 at 10:48 pm |
  7. Annie Kate


    Your collection of the investigative documents sounds fascinating. Have you thought about writing a book to dispel the non-truths in other books and to bring attention to the issues in those documents that remain unresolved?

    Its good that you are collecting these historic documents so they do not get lost or destroyed. I hope you can complete your collection on what is one of the key events in the last century.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    April 3, 2008 at 9:24 pm |
  8. bebe sears

    its wonder you kept all the police papers – but what kind of justice will it be at the end of the day forty years after the shooting – when all the player are dead or to lod to go to jail.

    April 3, 2008 at 8:22 pm |

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