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href="https://richardsonreports.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/the-day-the-story-changed-about-the-black-panthers-and-an-omaha-policemans-murder/">https://richardsonreports.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/the-day-the-story-changed-about-the-black-panthers-and-an-omaha-policemans-murder/</a></font>
        <h1 class="reader-title">The day the story changed about the
          Black Panthers and an Omaha policeman’s murder</h1>
        <span class="posted-on"><a
href="https://richardsonreports.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/the-day-the-story-changed-about-the-black-panthers-and-an-omaha-policemans-murder/"
            rel="bookmark">September 28, 2018</a> - Michael Richardson</span></div>
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                <p>The Omaha Municipal Court preliminary hearing for Ed
                  Poindexter and David Rice (later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen
                  we Langa) was called to order on September 28, 1970.
                  Both defendants asked their murder cases be severed
                  and tried separately but were denied. County Attorney
                  Donald Knowles and Arthur O’Leary represented the
                  prosecution, Public Defender A.Q. Wolf and Thomas
                  Kenney represented Poindexter, with David Herzog
                  representing Rice.</p>
                <p>The two men were leaders of Omaha’s affiliate chapter
                  of the Black Panther Party called the National
                  Committee to Combat Fascism. The pair were charged
                  with the bombing murder of Omaha Patrolman Larry
                  Minard, Sr. on <a
href="https://richardsonreports.wordpress.com/2018/08/17/bombing-murder-of-omaha-policeman-in-1970-was-used-by-fbi-against-black-panther-leaders/">August
                    11, 1970</a>. Peak confessed to planting the bomb
                  and after six versions ended up implicating the Black
                  Panther pair during his preliminary hearing testimony,
                  however only after contradicting himself.</p>
                <p>Thomas Kenney later described the hearing held at
                  Omaha City Hall. “It was a few blocks from the
                  Courthouse, but the preliminary hearing was a real
                  circus. There was a mob of people there, and screaming
                  and hollering. There were mobs of people, news media,
                  pro-police factions, you know, a number of black
                  people.”</p>
                <p>David Herzog began by immediately objecting to any
                  testimony by Peak because he was a co-defendant,
                  unreliable, and a minor. The judge overruled the
                  objection stating he did not know anything about Peak.</p>
                <p>Arthur O’Leary asked Peak about seeing Ed Poindexter
                  a week before the murder. Peak couldn’t remember. “I
                  don’t think I remember seeing him.”</p>
                <p>Peak also couldn’t remember seeing Poindexter at the
                  American Legion on the Friday before the bombing as he
                  earlier claimed. Peak couldn’t remember giving a
                  deposition to O’Leary a month earlier where he
                  purportedly did remember. Nor did Peak remember giving
                  O’Leary a statement during an interrogation a week
                  earlier.</p>
                <p>County Attorney Donald Knowles had enough and stopped
                  the questioning. “I note, Your Honor, from looking
                  around the courtroom, that this witness’ lawyer is not
                  here. I would like your permission for a continuance
                  to the time that we can get his lawyer here. I think
                  he should be here with him.”</p>
                <p>When the preliminary hearing resumed in the
                  afternoon, Knowles made a statement, apparently
                  because Peak was still not ready to cooperate with the
                  prosecution. “I understand that the Court’s ruling was
                  that we were allowed to withdraw the witness that was
                  on the stand this morning due to the fact that he had
                  taken us by surprise and we are allowed to proceed now
                  with other witnesses.”</p>
                <p>Finally, in mid-afternoon, Duane Peak returned to the
                  witness stand, wearing sun glasses. The <i>Omaha
                    World-Herald </i>reported that Peak’s hands
                  trembled and his answers were whispers.</p>
                <p>Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers interviewed
                  Peak years later about the case and that day in court.
                  <span><span lang="en-BZ">Peak described removing his
                      sunglasses upon instruction from the judge at the
                      preliminary hearing. “The stress and the pain and
                      all that I went through, it showed in my face.”</span></span></p>
                <p>“<span><span lang="en-BZ">If you had known, you could
                      have felt the inside of my heart, you know, it
                      just like someone took a big bass drum and took it
                      inside me and just started beating away. You know,
                      I could feel like…uhh…as I sat on the witness
                      stand, my heartbeat. I felt that everyone could
                      see my entire body pulsating, you know. The way my
                      heart was beating and I was under a lot of hurt
                      and I was under a lot of stress. I had a big
                      concern for my family. I didn’t want to see my
                      family suffer for anything they had nothing to do
                      with, and that was very important as well.”</span></span></p>
                <p>Peak admitted conferring with three people during the
                  morning recess; his lawyer, his brother Donald, and
                  his grandfather, Foster Goodlett. Objections were made
                  against any further testimony by Peak because of the
                  visits. The judge allowed Peak to testify. “The young
                  man is represented by competent counsel and I don’t
                  know what he advised him but he has been represented
                  and he has also conferred with his grandfather, who is
                  a minister and whom I have known for a long time and I
                  don’t know what advice he gave him but your motion is
                  overruled and we will see what the defendant testifies
                  to.”</p>
                <p>Unknown to the defendants or their attorneys, Donald
                  Peak was a paid FBI informant who reported to Special
                  Agent in Charge Paul Young and later to prosecutor
                  O’Leary. Poindexter and Rice were targets of the
                  clandestine <a
href="https://richardsonreports.wordpress.com/2018/09/13/fbi-sought-electric-chair-execution-of-black-panther-leaders-in-omaha/">COINTELPRO</a>
                  counterintelligence operation and the subject of FBI
                  Director J. Edgar Hoover’s personal attention. Donald
                  Peak’s visit with his brother during the recess
                  carried with it COINTELPRO taint.</p>
                <p>Peak’s testimony changed during the recess. Now Peak
                  remembered a conversation outside NCCF headquarters
                  with Ed Poindexter about a bomb. “He called me outside
                  and said he wanted to show me how to make a bomb.”</p>
                <p>Peak said Poindexter told him to meet that evening at
                  Frank Peak’s house. “He met me there with Rollie
                  House.”</p>
                <p>Duane claimed that from Frank’s home he went with
                  House and Poindexter to Mondo’s residence where
                  Poindexter got out of the vehicle. “We went up to
                  Rollie House’s house. Rollie brought a suitcase out
                  from the house.”</p>
                <p>Peak said House returned him to <a
href="https://richardsonreports.wordpress.com/2018/08/11/omaha-police-claimed-bomb-was-made-in-kitchen-of-black-panther-home/">Mondo’s
                    home</a> where Peak claimed that Poindexter opened
                  the suitcase to reveal dynamite. “Poindexter took the
                  dynamite out of the suitcase and put it in a box.”</p>
                <p>Peak’s story about construction of the bomb changed
                  from his earlier versions. Peak said he and Mondo
                  assisted Poindexter. Peak also said that Poindexter
                  wanted to plant the bomb that night but couldn’t get a
                  ride. According to Peak, at an encounter with
                  Poindexter about 11:00 p.m. on Friday night at the
                  American Legion Club, Peak was instructed to deliver
                  the bomb to a vacant house on Ohio Street.</p>
                <p>Peak gave yet a different version of the bomb
                  construction to Ernie Chambers. <span><span
                      lang="en-BZ">“That thing was made in David’s
                      basement. It was his basement.” Peak denied
                      witnessing the construction of the bomb. None of
                      Peak’s earlier versions of the crime supported his
                      new claim to Chambers that the bomb was assembled
                      outside his view in Mondo’s basement. At trial,
                      the bomb was allegedly assembled by Poindexter in
                      the kitchen while Peak watched on. </span></span></p>
                <p>Peak said he retrieved the suitcase and took it to
                  Olivia Norris’ house where he told his brother Donald
                  to stay away from the suitcase. From there Peak took
                  the suitcase to sister Delia’s apartment with sister
                  Theresa giving him a ride.</p>
                <p>Under cross-examination by Thomas Kenney, Peak
                  admitted telling the police a different story when
                  first questioned. Peak said he was threatened with the
                  electric chair during his first interrogation.</p>
                <p>David Herzog asked Peak about his arrest. Peak said
                  he was taken to the police station where he met with
                  police officers and one other person. “There was one
                  from the FBI.”</p>
                <p>“The FBI arrested me,” testified Peak.</p>
                <p>Peak said police twice talked to him about being
                  executed in the electric chair. “They said I was
                  sitting in the electric chair so I had better tell the
                  truth.”</p>
                <p>“I didn’t have a chance.”</p>
                <p>Peak admitted he had been coached about his
                  confession by Arthur O’Leary in preparation for the
                  hearing. Peak said his attorney was not present for
                  the session with O’Leary. Herzog asked Peak to remove
                  his sunglasses. Ernie Chambers was there and described
                  the scene in an interview. “When he came back in the
                  afternoon, his face was swollen around his eyes, he
                  had glasses on….When Duane took his glasses off his
                  eyes were red, you could see he had been crying, and
                  there was an audible gasp in the courtroom.”</p>
                <p>“His answers were scarcely audible. A young man who
                  knew nothing about anything in the morning and
                  suddenly gave the answers that the police, the
                  prosecutors needed to implicate David and Ed.”</p>
                <p>Kenney asked for a dismissal of the charges. “Your
                  Honor, the case that the State has presented thus far
                  was the testimony of a 16-year-old boy who admittedly
                  was subjected to extensive psychological coercion on
                  the part of the Omaha Police Department and therefore
                  is unreliable.”</p>
                <p>Herzog also sought a dismissal. “The witness has
                  changed sides; has altered his story; has forgotten,
                  claims to have forgotten some facts, and then comes
                  back this afternoon and offers that testimony at the
                  State’s own request and that witness has now impeached
                  himself.”</p>
                <p>“The confession itself or the statement here is of an
                  unreliable nature; obviously coerced; obviously given
                  under fear by the statement of the witness himself. He
                  indicates he would give the police officer or police
                  officers anything they wanted.”</p>
                <p>The case was continued to trial where in April 1971
                  the FBI obtained the conviction they sought. Peak
                  stuck to his story, got his deal and never spent a day
                  in prison. Raleigh House was never charged for
                  allegedly supplying the suitcase and dynamite for the
                  bomb. Rice was convicted and died at the Nebraska
                  State Penitentiary in March 2016. Poindexter remains
                  behind bars at the maximum-security prison where he
                  continues to proclaim his innocence.</p>
                <p>The day after the preliminary hearing Peak wrote to
                  Olivia Norris, a family friend, from his jail cell
                  that he betrayed “two bloods” and deserved a life
                  sentence or execution. The letter, censored by the
                  jail staff, was shown to prosecutors but kept from the
                  defense.</p>
                <p><i>This article is excerpted from the book </i><a
href="https://richardsonreports.wordpress.com/2018/08/30/new-book-on-fbis-war-against-the-black-panthers-gets-five-star-review/">FRAMED:
                    J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two
                    story</a>. <i>The book is available in ebook by <a
href="https://www.amazon.com/FRAMED-Edgar-Hoover-COINTELPRO-Omaha-ebook/dp/B07F8FQ8PC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1533233228&sr=1-1&keywords=FRAMED%3A+J.+Edgar+Hoover%2C+COINTELPRO+%26+the+Omaha+Two+story">Kindle</a>
                    or print from <a
href="https://www.amazon.com/FRAMED-Edgar-Hoover-COINTELPRO-Omaha/dp/1985021994/ref=sr_1_43?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530637788&sr=1-43&keywords=framed">Amazon</a>.
                    The book is available for local readers at the Omaha
                    Public Library. Portions of the book are also online
                    for free at <a
href="https://northomahahistory.com/2017/07/07/framed-series-summary-by-michael-richardson/">NorthOmahaHistory.com</a>.</i></p>
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