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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 to 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

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

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

Author's 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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