Sheriff Who Arrested James Earl Ray Glad Its Archived On Video

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(Memphis) News Channel 3 talked to the man who read James Earl Ray his rights after he was arrested for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Video of that historical arrest has been restored by the Shelby County Registers Office.

Much has been written about James Earl Ray’s arrest but former Sheriff and Mayor Bill Morris is glad this video is now being released to show the integrity of what was done back then during what was a very turbulent time in this city’s history.

“We were very conscious of the world media was looking at Memphis, Tennessee,” said Morris.

The newly released video shows then Sheriff Bill Morris reading James Earl Ray his Miranda Rights.

The video is grainy.

It drops out in spots so does the audio but 45 years later this is history. Then it was Morris’ way to show the world integrity.

“The main thing we wanted to do, we wanted to make certain that from the time we took custody of James Earl Ray that no question could be raised about the legality of the process,” said Morris.

Morris says they purchased the camera specifically to document Ray’s time in a Memphis cell.

“The equipment we had it took two people to carry the camera,” said Morris.

The video was found boxed up in the Sheriff’s office. Shelby County Register Tom Leatherwood had it restored. Nowhere else will you see the infamous inmate this close up, Morris made sure of that.

“I always concluded anybody you could photograph you could kill, you could shoot,” said Morris.

Ray’s stay in Memphis lasted 8 months before he was sent to the state pen.

“Very relieved when he left. That's a lot of pressure. That's a lot of pressure on your staff,” said Morris.

Morris said he had many conversations with Ray. One question I had to ask, does he believe Ray actually killed Dr. King.

Morris answered, “You know, Stephanie, I  don't have any doubt in my mind that he pulled the trigger that killed Martin Luther King, by the same token I have no doubt in my mind that he had accomplices.”

Morris is the only person who was in authority when it came to planning for Ray’s jail stay in Memphis who is still alive today.

Morris says he’s glad this video is around so people can the Sheriff’s Office was unbiased during that challenging situation.

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