[Ppnews] Deceit by FBI and Omaha Police against Black Panthers

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 1 10:39:03 EDT 2008

Original Content at 

March 31, 2008

Three days of deceit by FBI and Omaha Police against Black Panthers 
ended search for caller who lured policeman to trap

By Michael Richardson

On August 17, 1970, an anonymous caller to the Omaha, Nebraska police 
emergency hotline reported a woman screaming at a vacant 
house.  Eight police officers responded only to find a booby-trapped 
suitcase instead of a crime victim.  Officer Larry Minard, the father 
of five young children, was killed instantly when the suitcase bomb 
exploded in his face.  The other seven police officers were all 
injured in the blast.  Minard was buried three days later on what 
would have been his thirtieth birthday.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation immediately responded to assist 
the Omaha Police track down the killer.  However, what wasn't known 
at the time was a secret directive from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover 
to "disrupt" the Black Panther Party by any means possible called 
Operation COINTELPRO.  The joint investigation, under the COINTELPRO 
mandate, targeted Omaha's Black Panther chapter called the National 
Committee to Combat Fascism.

William Sullivan, Assistant Director of the FBI under Hoover, was the 
point person and chief architect of the covert COINTELPRO 
operation.  Sullivan served as Hoover's screener and selected 
Hoover's daily reading list out of the thousands of COINTELPRO 
memoranda and field communications that flowed into FBI headquarters 
each year.  Sullivan described COINTELPRO to a Congressional 
Committee on Nov. 1, 1975, as an operation where, "No holds were barred."

Sullivan's "no holds barred" policy was in effect when a decision was 
made and jointly-implemented by Omaha Police and the FBI Special 
Agent-in-Charge to let the unidentified caller who had lured Larry 
Minard to his death go free rather than endanger a plan to convict 
two Panther leaders, Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa (then known as 
David Rice).  The two leaders had been COINTELPRO targets for two 
years before the bombing.

The story lay hidden for years behind a secrecy stamp at FBI 
headquarters in a COINTELPRO file and buried in little-known and 
long-forgotten testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Internal 
Security.  Three days of deception in October 1970 that led to one of 
Minard's killers going free are documented in records now available 
to the public.

Within days after the bombing, a 15 year-old dropout, Duane Peak, was 
identified as the bomber.  Peak named a former Panther, Raleigh 
House, as the supplier of the dynamite and admitted to making the 
fatal call that lured Minard to his death.  Police stretched out the 
interrogation for days as Peak gave a half-dozen different versions 
of the crime.  Finally, Peak told the investigators what they wanted 
to hear, that NCCF leaders Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa  helped 
him build and store the bomb.

But there were problems with the official version of the 
case.  House, the supplier of the dynamite, was never formally 
charged or prosecuted for his role in the crime, raising suspicion 
that he was a COINTELPRO informant.  House spent one night in jail 
and was released on his own signature without posting  any 
bond.   The whereabouts of Raleigh House today are unknown.

Further, the voice of the deadly caller was that of a middle-aged 
man, not that of a 15 year-old, leaving an unidentified accomplice on 
the loose.  Poindexter and Langa, both in their 20's, were never 
suspected or accused of making the call.  Peak's older accomplice was 
still on the loose because Peak, apparently to protect the older male 
caller, continued to maintain he made the fatal phone call.

Shortly after the bombing, Omaha detectives rushed a tape of the 
emergency call to FBI headquarters for vocal analysis.  Police also 
made plans with the FBI to analyze other voice samples in an effort 
to identify the unknown caller.

At Peak's preliminary hearing in September he persisted in his claim 
that he made the emergency call and that House supplied the 
dynamite.  However, if the voice on the tape was not that of Peak the 
case against Poindexter and Langa, built upon the claims of Peak, 
would unravel.  Assistant Chief of Police Glenn Gates conferred with 
his COINTELPRO liaison, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Omaha FBI 
office that led to deceit that would seal the fate of Poindexter and 
Langa and let the deadly caller walk away from the murder.

October 12, 1970, the first day of deceit, would bring William 
Sullivan's first public admission that he had knowledge of the Omaha 
case in a rare public speech to a United Press International 
conference about the Black Panthers where he falsely denied FBI 
involvement in a "conspiracy" against the Panthers.  About Minard's 
death, Sullivan would say to the gathered reporters and 
correspondents, "On August 12, 1970 [sic] an Omaha, Nebraska police 
officer was literally blasted to death by an explosive device placed 
in a suitcase in an abandoned residence.  The officer had been 
summoned by an anonymous telephone complaint that a woman was being 
beated [sic] there.  An individual with Panther associations has been 
charged with this crime."

Sullivan would go on to describe a variety of violent acts for which 
he blamed the Black Panthers including the deaths of rival group 
members in California that later would be discovered as COINTELPRO 
initiated shootings.  Dismissing the growing body of evidence that 
there was some sort of a coordinated national effort against the 
Black Panthers that used illegal tactics Sullivan complained, 
"Panther cries of repression at the hands of a government 
"conspiracy" receive the sympathy not only of adherents to 
totalitarian ideologies, but also of those willing to close their 
eyes to even the violent nature of hoodlum "revolutionary" acts."

October 13, 1970, the second day of deceit, would put Omaha Police 
Captain Murdock Platner in Washington, D.C. in a committee room of 
the U.S. House Committee on Internal Security investigating the Black 
Panthers.  It would also be the date of a confidential memorandum 
from the Special Agent-in-Charge of the Omaha FBI office to J. Edgar 
Hoover stating:  "Assistant COP GLENN GATES, Omaha PD, advised that 
he feels than any uses of this call might be prejudicial to the 
police murder trial against two accomplices of PEAK and, therefore, 
has advised that he wishes no use of this tape until after the murder 
trials of Peak and the two accomplices has been completed."

The COINTELPRO memo continued, "[N]o further efforts are being made 
at this time to secure additional tape recordings of the original 
telephone call."  No more recordings, no more voice analysis, and no 
more search for the identity of the anonymous murderous caller.

In May 2007, voice analysis expert witness Tom Owen testified about 
the sophisticated tests he performed on a recording of the emergency 
call in a bid by Poindexter for a new trial.  Owen testified before 
Douglas County District Court Judge Russell Bowie that to a "high 
degree" of probability the voice was not that of Peak.

October 14, 1970, the third day of deceit, would again find Captain 
Platner in a Congressional committee room but this time under oath 
and testifying, falsely, about the source of the dynamite that killed 
his fellow officer.  Despite Peak's repeated assertions that Raleigh 
House, the man with the get-out-of-jail-free card, supplied him with 
the dynamite and testimony against House several weeks earlier at his 
preliminary hearing, Platner boldly made a sworn false statement to 
the committee about the explosives to name Mondo we Langa instead of House.

"Duane Peak, a16-year old boy who was arrested, testified in a 
preliminary hearing.  It is from this preliminary hearing you are 
bound over to the district court to stand trial.  In the preliminary 
hearing he testified that David Rice [Mondo we Langa] brought a 
suitcase filled with dynamite to his house or to somebody's house, 
I'm not for sure just which place; that they removed all the dynamite 
from the suitcase except three sticks, made the bomb, the triggering 
device, and so on, and put it together; and then packed the suitcase 
with newspapers and that he left with this suitcase."

The unknown man who made the fatal call that lured Larry Minard to 
his untimely and tragic death was dropped from the case following the 
three days of deceit in October 1970 because his existence interfered 
with the story told by killer Duane Peak and further investigation 
would only undermine the state's case against Ed Poindexter and Mondo 
we Langa.  Sadly, the fatal caller walked free, unidentified, so that 
the two Panther leaders could be convicted of the crime.

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa are serving life sentences at the 
maximum security Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln.  Both men 
deny any involvement in Larry Minard's murder.  The Nebraska Supreme 
Court is reviewing Poindexter's request for a new trial.  No date has 
been set for a decision.

  Permission granted to reprint

Authors Bio: Michael Richardson is a freelance writer based in 
Boston. Richardson writes about politics, election law, human 
nutrition, ethics, and music. Richardson is also a political 
consultant on ballot access.

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San Francisco, CA 94110

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