[Ppnews] Senate testimony reveals missing dynamite in 'Omaha Two' bombing case

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Nov 20 17:18:35 EST 2008

November 19, 2008

Senate testimony by police captain reveals 9 
sticks of missing dynamite in 'Omaha Two' bombing case
By Michael Richardson

An Omaha, Nebraska police captain, Murdock 
Platner, made two trips to Congressional hearing 
rooms in Washington D.C. in October 1970 to 
testify about the bombing murder of police 
officer Larry Minard.  Officer Minard was killed 
two months earlier on August 17th while 
responding to a call of a woman screaming in a 
vacant house when he triggered a suitcase bomb that killed him instantly.

Platner appeared before a U.S. Senate 
subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee on 
October 6, 1970 investigating "Assaults on Law 
Enforcement Officers" along with patrolman James 
Sledge and provided testimony and graphic photos 
which Sledge described as "a little ghoulish" of Minard's mangled body.

Platner told the Senate committee, chaired by 
Senator Strom Thurmond, that he was a 25-year 
veteran of the Omaha Police Department and that 
he was in charge of the intelligence 
squad.  Platner explained "hard-core militants" 
had been active in Omaha for two years.  The 
captain explained about other "militant" activity 
in Des Moines, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri, 
and that an "ambush of  some sort was to be planned against the Omaha police."

"A bulletin was issued to all police 
asking them to be especially careful of 
any kind of boxes, or anything such as that they found."

"Prior to this, we had been told if they were 
going to wait a person out and they would make a 
phone call, and the police would come and 
somebody out of the dark would shoot at the police officer."

Platner then described the terrible events of 
August 17th that claimed Minard's life with a 
booby-trapped suitcase bomb despite the warnings 
of a possible ambush.  "We have since arrested three black militants."

"We have learned through confidential informants 
that the dynamite was stolen from a place called 
Quick Supply Co. in Des Moines and transferred 
across the State line into the Omaha area
were probably ten cases of this dynamite that was 
stolen from Des Moines and brought to the Omaha 
area.  We were in contact with a white man who we 
knew was buying stolen property from these 
people, and we asked him to ask them about 
dynamite, and we thought possibly we could buy 
it.  We eventually did buy about 60 sticks of dynamite from them."

Platner also appeared in Washington and 
testified, under oath, before the U.S. House 
Committee on Internal Security on October 14th 
investigating the Black Panther Party.  However, 
sometime between his Senate testimony and his 
sworn House testimony eight days later, nine sticks of dynamite disappeared.

"We received information from a party that had 
been approached to buy dynamite.  We had him buy 
it and he bought 10 sticks.  It was 2 ½ by 
16-inch sticks.  He came back later and said he 
could buy more of this dynamite.  So we set up 
for him to buy and then we were going to move in 
before it was delivered.  We did move in and 
arrested three young men in a car.  In their 
possession they had 41 sticks of this same type of dynamite."

Inexplicably, the "about 60" sticks of October 
6th had become 51 sticks by October 
14th.  However, it didn't really matter to the 
jury that convicted the two Panther leaders 
because they were never told of Platner's 
testimony and his two versions of the stolen dynamite.

Minard's death was blamed on the Black Panthers 
while the murder investigation was being secretly 
being directed from Federal Bureau of 
Investigation headquarters by director J. Edgar 
Hoover who had declared a clandestine war on the 
Panthers known as Operation COINTELPRO.  Hoover's 
hidden role in the case did not emerge until 
years later following a Freedom of Information release of FBI documents.

At the time of Platner's testimony, Omaha Police 
had six individuals in custody in the 
case.  Charged in July arrests with possession of 
stolen Quick Supply dynamite were Luther Payne, 
Lamont Mitchell and Conrad Gray.  Charged in 
August arrests were 15-year old Duane Peak--the 
confessed bomber, Ed Poindexter and Mondo we 
Langa (formerly David Rice) who were leaders of 
Omaha's Black Panther chapter called the Nebraska 
Committee to Combat Fascism.
Also arrested in August was Raleigh Bryant House 
for conspiracy to commit murder.  House had been 
named by Peak as the supplier of the dynamite 
used in the bomb that killed Minard.  Curiously, 
House was released after one night in jail and 
never formally charged in the case despite his 
role in providing dynamite to Peak.  Platner 
testified to the House committee that House was 
the "Minister of Finance" of the NCCF but did not 
mention his role in the dynamite delivery, 
instead falsely telling the committee that Mondo 
we Langa was the source of the explosive. House's 
get-out-of-jail-free status suggests he was a police informant.

The significance of the missing nine sticks of 
dynamite was the purported discovery of a box of 
dynamite in Mondo's basement by Omaha detective 
Jack Swanson following the bombing.  Swanson was 
also the detective in charge of the stolen 
dynamite seized in July from Payne, Mitchell and 
Gray.  No dynamite was ever photographed by crime 
scene technicians at Langa's residence and only 
first appeared in police evidence photos in the trunk of a police squad car.

Another detective, Robert Pheffer, who testified 
at trial he saw Swanson carry it upstairs, 
corroborated Swanson's purported basement 
discovery of dynamite.  Pheffer has since 
contradicted his own trial testimony and now 
claims that he, not Swanson, found 
dynamite.  Pheffer also now alleges he found 
other bomb-making supplies, an allegation not 
supported by police inventory logs or any other officer at the scene.

The men caught in July with stolen dynamite, 
Luther Payne, Lamont Mitchell and Conrad Gray, 
quietly had their charges dropped several days 
after the 'Omaha Two' trial ended without jurors 
ever learning of their arrests.  Raleigh House 
was named at the murder trial as the source of 
the bomb explosive but never was prosecuted for 
his role in the police killing. Duane Peak, the 
confessed bomber, walked free after several years 
of juvenile detention in exchange for his 
testimony that the Panther leaders had made the 
bomb and put him up to the bombing.

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa are both serving 
life sentences in the Nebraska State Penitentiary 
and deny any involvement in Minard's 
death.  Poindexter has a new trial request 
pending before the Nebraska Supreme Court over 
withheld evidence and conflicting police dynamite 
testimony.  No date for a decision has been set.

  Permission grant to reprint

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

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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