January 1, 2022
To: National Law Enforcement Associations
From: Ed Woods, Founder, No Parole Peltier Association, Cincinnati, Ohio
Subject: Denying commutation for convicted murderer, LEONARD PELTIER
Dear Association Leadership:
We are writing national law enforcement associations and organizations to bring attention to the possibility that consideration may be underway to commute Leonard Peltier’s consecutive life sentences. Peltier was convicted for the brutal cold-blooded killing of FBI Agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. Regretfully, too many people, in and out of government, are not familiar with the facts, only the folklore.
Within the law enforcement community and brotherhood, we are all deeply affected when any of our own are killed in the Line of Duty, and certainly in circumstances when justice for their killers may be jeopardized.
We surely understand that the Constitutional authority to grant clemency, pardon or commutation on the federal level rests with one person, President Biden. The facts and details of Peltier’s criminal acts must be brought to the President’s attention to counter four decades of continuous fabrications, falsehoods and feigned innocence.
The summary that follows can be verified through trial transcripts, appellate filings and decisions, primary sources and Peltier's own public statements:
On June 26, 1975, FBI Agents Coler and Williams were performing their lawful duties on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation searching for a fugitive, Jimmy Eagle. In separate government sedans they followed a suspect vehicle from the main highway onto a dirt road leading to a farm. The vehicle stopped at a distance as did Coler and Williams, who were then exposed in an open field. The occupants of the vehicle, including Peltier, began an unprovoked attack with rifle fire on the pinned-down agents. Of critical importance, crucial because of Peltier’s many lies of how the shooting actually began, is that there was an eyewitness. Agent Williams was on the FBI radio describing exactly what was about to happen; trying to describe their location, that they were about to come under fire—the shooting started—and they heard Agent Williams say, “I’m hit.” FBI employees in the Rapid City office and other Agents heard Agent Williams’s transmission and that he also said if they didn’t get there soon, “We’ll be dead.”
Peltier was joined by other American Indian Movement members, with rifles, trapping the Agents in a deadly crossfire. The initial shooting ended quickly as the government sedans were riddled with bullet holes. Agent Coler received what was probably a mortal wound and was likely unconscious. Agent Williams, wounded three times, removed his shirt, waved it as a sign of surrender and used it as a tourniquet on Agent Coler’s severely injured arm.
Court testimony concluded, and the jury accepted, that Peltier approached the wounded Agents. Agent Williams faced his killer. Peltier placed the muzzle of his AR-15 against an upraised hand and blew Agent Williams’s fingers through the back of his head. Peltier then turned the weapon on Agent Coler, destroying his face with two more shots.
Peltier and the others fled the Reservation. While making a getaway to Canada with other AIM members, Peltier described Agent Williams’s last moments. Sworn testimony in a later trial quoted Peltier, “The M…F…begged for his life, but I shot him anyway.”
Peltier was later captured and convicted, receiving consecutive life sentences. Peltier had over a dozen appeals regarding the facts and his many unsupported and often frivolous allegations of a wrongful conviction. Among a multitude of court findings, one concluded, “Previous federal court decisions provided the (parole) Commission with ample facts to support its conviction that Peltier personally shot Agents Coler and Williams.” “Neither the conviction nor any of the subsequent court decisions have been overturned.” (10th Circuit Court of Appeals, 11/4/2003)
We are encouraging Law Enforcement Organizations to contact government representatives and officials, who support the police and law enforcement, to voice their opposition to any consideration by the President to commute Leonard Peltier’s sentence. The President must understand the sacred oath of those who carry a badge. They place themselves in harm’s way to protect the citizenry and enforce our Nation’s laws and in instances where those lives are taken in the Line-of-Duty, justice for their killers must continue.
Correspondence should also be directed to President Biden, the Attorney General and the U.S. DOJ Pardon Attorney. Addresses follow.
Finally, there are those who mistakenly believe that freeing Peltier will in some perverse manner correct the historical wrongs of the past against Native Americans. This could be no further from reality. Peltier’s crimes were, and remain, violent unprovoked criminal acts.
The unrepentant Peltier received a fair trial, validated by numerous appeals, and should continue serving his consecutive life sentences in addition to the seven consecutive years for an armed prison escape.
Peltier should be shown as much mercy as he gave to Jack Coler and Ron Williams; and that would be none.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
http://www.noparolepeltier.com/debate.html#concise (2009; including 60 footnotes & Addendum)
-President Joe Biden, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20500
Hon. Merrick Garland, U.S. Attorney General, USDIJ, 950 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20530-0000
Hon. Rosalind Sargent-Burns, U.S. Pardon Attorney, 950 Pennsylvania Ave. – RFK, Main Justice Building, Washington, D.C. 20530