Just over fifty-five years ago, on June 5, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, shortly after triumphing in the California and South Dakota Presidential primaries.
Robert F. Kennedy, often referred to as RFK or Bobby Kennedy, was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 64th United States Attorney General from January 1961 to September 1964, and as a U.S. Senator from New York from January 1965 until his assassination in June 1968.
RFK’s political momentum was on the upswing — “Now, it’s on to Chicago,” he earlier proclaimed the night he was shot. Tragically, he suffered serious injuries and lost his life 26 hours later despite exhaustive medical interventions at the Good Samaritan Hospital.
But Sirhan Sirhan was not the only gunman in the kitchen hotel.
There was another shooter proclaimed, Robert F. Kennedy’s son, Democratic Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. He sat down with Bill Maher on the Club Random podcast, where he unfolded the events of that infamous night in detail.
“But I still believed that my father had been killed by Sirhan Sirhan.”
“Sirhan confessed to the murder,” denoted Kennedy. “He pled guilty. His story is that he has no memory of it, and he stuck with that story for 60 years. But there was a man standing, one of my father’s best friends, standing beside him when my father was shot. And his name is Paul Schrade.”
RFK Jr. told Bill Maher that Paul Schrade, who was the Deputy Director of the United Auto Workers, introduced his father to Cesar Chavez, which was “one of the most important relationships” his father ever had.
“And the first shot that Sirhan fired hit Paul in the head,” Kennedy detailed. “Paul survived, and he just died less than a year ago. And he spent the last 20 years of his life trying to get Sirhan out of jail because he did not believe that Sirhan killed my father.”
Kennedy shared that Allard Lowenstein, a former US Congressman (D-NY) and “great friend” of Robert F. Kennedy, also believed the same thing — that Sirhan Sirhan did not kill the Presidential hopeful in 1968. “He fought for many years to get Sirhan out [of prison] and get the case reopened because he did not believe that my father was killed by Sirhan.”
Kennedy previously believed that the 77 eyewitnesses at the Ambassador Hotel shooting must have seen things right — that Sirhan Sirhan killed his father.
It wasn’t until Paul Schrade showed Kennedy an autopsy report that his view of his father’s death changed forever.
“Paul Schrade made me come over to his house one day and read the autopsy report,” recalled Kennedy. “How did he make me? He told me, you have to do this. And because he was such a close friend of my father’s and because he himself had been shot, I felt like I couldn’t say no to him. When I sat down and read the autopsy report, it became clear to me, as it would to anybody who read that report, that Sirhan could not have killed my father, which is what Thomas Noguchi, the coroner, the most important coroner probably in American history also concluded and said in his autobiography.”
Here’s the short story of what happened, per Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
“Sirhan fired two shots at my father. He was 5ft away. There was absolute mayhem in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel. My father just won the primary. He said, from the stage, ‘And now it’s onto Chicago,’ which is where the convention was. Then he walks off the stage, and he went into a route that was not expected.”
Kennedy continued. “He [my father] was led into a route through the kitchen, which he was not supposed to go to, and waiting in the kitchen in an ambush was Siran Siran standing in front of a steam table. And as my father approached the steam table, Sirhan fired at him two shots. One of those hit Paul Schrade. The other one went past my father’s ear and hit a door jam behind my father, a wooden door jam from which it was later removed by the LAPD. Sirhan was then grabbed by six men in a dog pile, and he was backed onto the steam table.”
Kennedy shared that Rafer Johnson, a “great friend” of Kennedy’s father and 1960 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, was one of the people who tried to grab Sirhan’s gun.
“He was one of the people who grabbed it [the gun], and he was the one who actually grabbed his hand.” Rafer told Kennedy Sirhan Sirhan was “The tiniest, tiniest little guy” but tough as nails — going as far as to say Sirhan “had superhuman strength.” “He [Rafer] could not get that gun out of his [Sirhan’s] hand,” continued Kennedy. “And Sirhan now was pointing the gun away from my father and fired six more shots.”
“So there’s eight shots in the barrel,” Kennedy summarized. “He [Sirhan] fired six [shots] in the opposite direction from where my father was. All of those shots hit people. So we know who they hit. We know what happened to all of those bullets. One person got shot twice.” But his father, Robert F. Kennedy, “was shot four times from behind.”
“So it’s the same scenario as [Lee Harvey] Oswald,” interjected Bill Maher. “A patsy and a real shooter.” “Right,” agreed Kennedy. “So, he was a distractor.”
“The real shooter was behind my father,” claimed Kennedy.
“That man is Thane Eugene Cesar.” Cesar “was a security guard who worked for Lockheed [Martin]. He was a CIA operative. He was a vocal, vocal racist who hated the Kennedys. And he had been the one who led my father through the kitchen toward the ambush.”
“He was holding my father’s arm. He drew his gun. And my father was shot four times from behind. One of the shots passed harmlessly through the shoulder pad of his coat. The other two were into his back and then one behind his ear, which was the fatal shot. And all of the shots had an uphill trajectory. And all of them, and this is what the autopsy found, were contact shots,” reported Kennedy. “So, the barrel of the gun was touching my father’s body or his clothing. And the discharge left carbon tattoos … on his flesh.”
The basis for Kennedy’s claims came from “The Perfect Autopsy.”
“Thomas Noguchi, who knew what had happened in President Kennedy’s autopsy, which was loaded with scandal, did not want the same thing to happen in LA. And he said, ‘We’re not going to do Dallas again.’ So he flew in the top coroners from all of the armed services, the army, air force, navy, [and] marines to observe what he was doing. And his autopsy is called ‘The perfect autopsy’ in the medical literature. And he concluded that the shots had come from behind. And there were 77 eyewitnesses who saw that Sirhan was never behind my father. He was always in front of him — always about 5 feet away.”
Kennedy also argued that his father “must have known he was being shot from behind.”
“As my father fell, he must have known he was being shot from behind because he turned around and grabbed off Cesar’s clip-on tie. And you can see pictures of him lying on the floor. And he’s actually lying on top of Cesar with the clip-on tie in his hand. And there’s pictures of Cesar without his tie on.”
Kennedy continued. “Cesar pushed my father off him and stood up. He was knocked down when my father fell onto him. He stood up and was seen with his gun. The police did not confiscate the gun that night. And they asked him what he was doing. And he said he drew the gun to shoot at Sirhan.”
And this is all just “the beginning of the story,” remarked Kennedy.
“Cesar made a series of changing, deceptive, lying statements after that in the different times he was questioned over many, many years. I cannot tell you what happened. I can speculate about it. But I can tell you that I cannot see any way that anybody can read that autopsy report and believe that Sirhan killed my father,” concluded Kennedy.
“And that’s my point,” he stated. “It [the case] ought to be investigated.”
Disclaimer: The details in this article represent Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s perspective and are intended solely for informational purposes. Kennedy’s comments are not meant to be used as evidence of a crime against Thane Eugene Cesar.
The entirety of Kennedy’s interview with Bill Maher is available to watch on YouTube: