An officer of the New York Police Department was gunned down 46 years ago inside a Nation of Islam mosque in Harlem, a case about which the NYPD is alleged to have been withholding evidence from the public.
Urging the NYPD to “come clean,” Randy Jurgensen, a former member of the NYPD, wrote an opinion editorial in the Daily News indicating that decades ago, a special prosecutor found that there had been “a concerted and orchestrated effort” by members of the NYPD to impede the investigation into the murder of officer Phillip Cardillo. Allegedly, the NYPD withheld from the department’s own investigators a secret report regarding the case.
The NYPD was sued in March by the watchdog group Judicial Watch for failing to produce records in the case, including investigative files, a promised report and an audio tape. The NYPD argued that the investigation remained “active and ongoing.”
Jurgensen, who in 2007 published a book about the case titled “Circle of Six,” questioned why the NYPD would cover up evidence in the murder of an officer. He wrote about the case:
The climate in the early 1970s, when this terrible crime happened, was awful. Terrorists with groups like the Black Liberation Army, the FALN, the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers were killing cops and bombing civilians. Illegal drugs and murders were through the roof.
The day Cardillo was gunned down, on April 14, 1972, I was at the mosque where it happened . Cardillo and his partner 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.
It turned out “Detective Thomas” was a fake.
Cardillo and his partner were first on the scene, racing into the mosque. The big steel doors slammed behind them. Men came rushing down the stairs shouting “Allahu Akbar!” A terrible battle ensued. Cardillo’s gun was taken from him and he was shot.
Outside the mosque, a riot began to develop. Mosque leader Louis Farrakhan emerged from his third-floor office to protest the police presence. Black cops were separated from white cops — a huge blow to police morale — as police brass feared racial unrest.
Inside the mosque, suspects were released. The crime scene was abandoned. Evidence vanished.
The mayor and police commissioner ran away from the case, not attending Cardillo’s funeral. A half-hearted initial police investigation came up with nothing.
Following public backlash, the case was turned over to Jurgensen, who arrested a suspect. Even so, he had no evidence from the crime scene and was not privy to the secret report, which contained significant evidence and leads. Therefore, the suspect was acquitted.
Following the publication of Jurgensen’s book, the case was reopened. He went back to work on the case, turning over his records and a copy of the 10-13 tape to the NYPD. The NYPD now claims that they cannot find the 10-13 tape.
Although Jurgensen wants independent analysts and journalists to see the entire case file, the NYPD refuses to release the records. According to the NYPD, they are not required to make anything public, as it may harm an ongoing investigation.