New questions have been published by the New York Daily News over a killing of a police officer 46 years ago in Nation of Islam chief Louis Farrakhan’s Harlem mosque.
Headlined “The NYPD must let out the truth about an unsolved cop-killing,” contributor Randy Jurgenson explains the history:
“Forty-six years ago today, an NYPD cop named Phillip Cardillo was gunned down inside a Nation of Islam mosque in Harlem. No one ever served a day in jail for the crime. And for 46 years, the NYPD has been withholding evidence in his murder case from the public. It’s time they come clean.”
The actual anniversary of the shooting death was Saturday. And officials with Judicial Watch, who have sued over the secrecy of the records, noted the questions from the Daily News: “Could the secret to unraveling the Cardillo murder be in the withheld records of the NYPD? The Judicial Watch lawsuit may be the last chance to get to the bottom of New York’s most infamous cold-case killing.”
Jurgensen, a former NYPD detective, also wrote the book about the case, “Circle of Six.”
Even now, the author explains, “the NYPD won’t release investigative files, a promised report and an audio tape, preposterously claiming an investigation is still ‘active and ongoing.’”
Judicial Watch says a ruling in its case is expected soon. Legal action also is moving forward in a parallel case against the FBI in Washington.
Jurgensen writes, “The day Cardillo was gunned down, on April 14, 1972, I was at the mosque where it happened. Cardillo and his partners had responded to an emergency ’10-13’ call. A 10-13 is every cop’s worst nightmare: officer in distress. The 10-13 caller said he was ‘Detective Thomas’ and he was trapped on the second floor of an address that turned out to be the mosque.”
He continued. “It turned out ‘Detective Thomas’ was a fake.”
They went to court in March hunting for the details.
Questions that remain unanswered include who made that call, why was the mosque security absent when the officers first arrived, who fired the shots, and why did police commanders order officers out of the crime scene and turn it over to the NOI.
And why was Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., at the scene, and why did he fail to follow through on his promise to bring NOI members present at the shooting to the police station?
The organization is arguing that both on the facts and the law, the case is closed. That would mean the public has a right to the information.
The watchdog group’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit was launched in January.
The lawsuit seeks: “All records concerning the Nation of Islam Mosque #7 in Harlem, Manhattan, New York City, or the building located at 102 West 116th Street. This request includes, but is not limited to, all informant, wiretap, electronic surveillance, and physical surveillance records relevant to the Nation of Islam Mosque #7, located at 102 West 116th Street, in New York City” for the time period 1970 through 1973.”
“Officer Cardillo’s murder, over 40 years ago, is relevant today. We need to completely clear this case to properly honor a fallen hero,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “There should be no informal statute of limitations on the death of one of New York’s finest. It is shameful we are being stonewalled by law enforcement bureaucracies on this murder. Rank-and-file NYPD officers want answers, too.”
A previous report by a Judicial Watch investigator raised additional questions: Was the call actually made by the FBI as part of one of its undercover investigations? What was the result of the conference between then-President Richard Nixon and FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover on the case?
“Racial tensions were running high. Urban homicide rates had skyrocketed. Radical groups like the Weather Underground and the Black Panther Party were trying to stoke a revolutionary fury in the streets with bombings, murder and mayhem. In New York, an ambitious liberal mayor, John Lindsay, was eyeing a run for the presidency,” Judicial Watch’s report said. “In a string of brutal crimes directed against the NYPD, officers Thomas Curry and Nicholas Binetti had been blasted with machine-gun fire as they guarded the home of Manhattan DA Frank Hogan. Officers Gregory Foster and Rocco Laurie were murdered on the Lower East Side, shot from behind. Officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones were shot to death outside a Harlem housing project. Radicals associated with the violent Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army were fingered for the crimes.”
The mosque shooting report noted that Farrakhan and Rangel both played roles in the case but have “ignored repeated requests … to discuss it.”
Among the revelations that have been unearthed is the fact that when a police commander called from the crime scene for backup for his officers who were facing a dozen or more irate NOI members, his request was denied.