Of all the agents lost in the line of duty as a result of adversarial action, the subjects were either killed during the commission of their crimes or for those who survived and have not since died, are serving their rightful prison sentences.*
One case (RESMURS; Reservation Murders), however, long officially closed, is still being tried in the court of public opinion, and now again in the courts, as a civil lawsuit in federal court against those who have spoken up against Peltier.
Ironically, Peltier’s response to the court is due today, June 26, 2017, the 42nd anniversary of the unprovoked attack and brutal murder of Special Agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams.
For decades, convicted double-murderer Leonard Peltier has tried to cloak his actions that sultry June day as somehow relating to defending native culture when in fact they were the actions of a lawless gang of American Indian Movement members, precipitated by Peltier, who knew at that moment he was a fugitive.
Documentation has proven that Peltier knew that Agents Coler and Williams were not looking for him that day, but for a local fugitive, Jimmy Eagle.
To coin Peltier’s own allegations against those who oppose any consideration or mercy for his criminal actions, Peltier knew, or should have known that the Agents did not come to Jumping Bull that day looking for him.**
It’s likely though that Peltier assumed the Agents would have pressed for identification and discovered who Peltier was and that he was wanted. It is also a matter of record that at that time the FBI did not know about the AIM camp along White Clay Creek or that Peltier had recently returned to Pine Ridge.
There is no debate over how the unprovoked attack began. An eyewitness, Ron Williams, was describing on the radio what was happening as it unfolded. Those listening even hearing Ron say he’d been hit.
Peltier feigns innocence, yet for many years offered as his only alibi that someone they knew—the infamous Mr. X—killed the agents and drove off in the phantom red pickup. This fable was proven to be a lie by one of Peltier’s co-conspirators and one of his own attorneys.
Peltier’s case has been under the proverbial microscope for decades and not once has his conviction or sentence been altered. So he falls back on the other great lie that in some perverse way, justified only in his own mind, that he was acting on behalf of his people. In large part, Native Americans have denounced Peltier and recognized that he and the American Indian Movement contributed nothing of value to their otherwise proud and noble heritage.
For decades Peltier has denigrated the memory and sacrifice of Agents Coler and Williams by admitting publicly he has no regrets, and worse, if necessary he’d do it all over again: Peltier remains where he belongs, a civil lawsuit notwithstanding.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
* With no small irony one of those murderers is serving a life sentence in the same prison complex, USP Coleman, as Peltier: Melvin Bay Guyon, who cowardly, using his own child as a shield, shot and killed Agent Johnnie Oliver on August 9, 1979 in a Cleveland apartment.
Testimony of Michael Anderson during Peltier’s trial established that on the evening of June 25th, he, along with Wish Draper and Norman Charles went to Oglala to take a shower and while returning along Highway 18 were stopped and questioned by two FBI Agents [Coler and Williams driving in late model sedans] who were trying to determine if one of them was Jimmy Eagle. The three provided “Indian” names and were taken by the agents to the Pine Ridge police to have one of the officers confirm that none of them was Jimmy Eagle. Another officer then dropped them off near the Jumping Bull property. (Tp. 760-769)
When the three returned to the AIM camp Peltier questioned them about what happened and “We just got yelled at” and Peltier said, “We were dumb to get in the car.” (Tp. 771-772)
Anderson also described the “red and white van” he knew Peltier operated. (Tp. 772)
The Government’s argument at trial and reviewed upon appeal established that the occupants of the “red and white van” (the suburban belonging to Sam Loud Hawk that Peltier had been using) was occupied by Peltier, Joe Stuntz and Norman Charles. Norman Charles, who only the night prior, met the same two Agents driving the same late model sedans. There was no mistaking by Peltier that he was being followed by FBI Agents who were searching for Jimmy Eagle, and he chose, in spite of that knowledge, to take the murderous actions he did.