Edward Poindexter, 79, died on December 7, 2023 at the Nebraska State Penitentiary serving a life sentence for the murder of Omaha police officer Larry Minard. Poindexter was incarcerated for fifty-three years for the crime which he denied any role.
Co-defendant David Rice, later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, died at the prison in March 2016. Both men were targets of J. Edgar Hoover, infamous director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mondo explained before his death that the two men were paying a debt they did not owe.
Ed Poindexter was the chairman of Omaha’s chapter of the National Committee to Combat Fascism, a Black Panther spin-off organization. Mondo was the minister of information for the group and the two men were targeted under the clandestine COINTELPRO operation of the FBI.
The pair were arrested and convicted after a controversial two-week trial that featured conflicting police testimony, perjured testimony by the state’s chief witness, and withheld exculpatory evidence. Patrolman Minad was killed by a bomb placed by fifteen year-old Duane Peak in a vacant house. Police were called to the ambush with an anonymous 911 call. Special Agent in charge Paul Young quickly realized the value of the 911 tape and had it sent to the FBI Crime Laboratory where Hoover ordered no report on the identity of the 911 caller. The jury that convicted Ed and Mondo never got to hear the voice of the killer as the tape was withheld. Peak, who cut a deal and tesified the two leaders put him up to the crime, was sentenced as a juvenile delinquent and never served a day in prison.
After the FBI tampering with the case was revealed the Nebraska Supreme Court denied the the two men a new trial and they spent the rest of their life in maximum security confinement. Neither man backed down from their plea of innocence despite offers of a pardon if they confessed.
Poindexter was defended by former Governer Farnk Morrison who later called the case his biggest regret.
Racial feelings in North Omaha were rampant… It was impossible for them to get a fair trial.
I had no idea the extent to which J. Edgar Hoover would go to secure a conviction. Back in those days the pressure was on the FBI to secure convictions. These federal agents were so convinced Rice and Poindexter were behind this murder and put this kid up to it, they were out to get them regardless of the lengths they went.
They jumped to the conclusion without any evidence.
Ed Poindexter said he wasn’t guilty of murder and had nothing to do with that, but he was guilty of rhetoric… The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol and Firearms naturally didn’t like this language, so I’m convinced they just set out to get some evidence on Rice and Poindexter because of the way they felt.
Part of it is my fault. If I had known what I know now, what I discovered after trial—I should have investigated the circumstances of what intelligence agencies interrogated Duane Peak.
Following his retirement as Public Defender in Omaha, Morrison apologized to Ed for his failure to secure justice in the case.
As a citizen, a former prosecutor and Governor of this state, I abhor, detest and condemn the cowardly, cruel and unjustified murder of officer Minard. My heart aches for his family. The guilty parties should pay the penalty. The self-confessed murderer was turned loose after a slap on the wrist.
In my opinion, it is just as important for the state to protect the innocent as to prosecute the guilty. As Public Defender of Douglas County, it was my official duty to represent Ed Poindexter. He told me then that he was innocent of this crime, and I still believe him. We did not have the resources in the Public Defender’s office to get all of the facts in this case.
I now believe and always have believed that the true role of law enforcement is a search for truth. Real justice can only be built on truth… I feel both I and the system failed Ed Poindexter.
Excerpted from FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story. Available from Amazon and ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at Northomahahistory.com. Patrons of the Omaha Public Library may read the book free of cost.