Under New York State FOIL laws, Judicial Watch sought records, a final report, and an audio tape of a 10-13 “officer in distress” call made in the 46-year-old Phillip Cardillo murder case.
Cardillo, an NYPD patrolman, was gunned down in a Nation of Islam mosque in Harlem in 1972.
The NYPD denied Judicial Watch’s FOIL request, claiming that the Cardillo case, after more than four decades, is “active and ongoing.”
Judicial Watch argued that, on both facts and law, the case is closed, and the public has a right to information.
Judicial Watch took the NYPD to NYS Supreme Court.
Judge Verna Saunders is presiding in the case. Judge Saunders inquired if the NYPD would be open to providing redacted documents?
It is unclear if NYPD will agree to that at this juncture.
The NYPD claims it cannot find the 10-13 distress call tape, but if it were discovered on a further search, the NYPD said it would not turn it over to the public because the tape would be part of an active and ongoing investigation.
Retired NYPD detective Randy Jurgensen was in the courtroom as an observer. He arrested Cardillo’s alleged shooter, in 1976.
The suspect Jurgensen arrested went to trial and was acquitted.
Jurgenson later wrote “Circle of Six,” a memoir of the case that prompted then-Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in 2006 to direct the NYPD Major Case Squad to take another look at the Cardillo killing. Jurgensen worked with Major Case Squad on the re-investigation and says the inquiry was closed around 2012. Since then, he says, there has been no activity on the case.
The NYPD claims otherwise.
“I was told repeatedly in 2012 and after, by members of the Major Case Squad, that the case was closed and a final report was being prepared,” Jurgensen told Judicial Watch. “Copies of that report were to be ‘sent upstairs’”—to the police commissioner—”and provided to the Cardillo family, and to me. That never happened. It’s 46 years since Phil Cardillo was killed. I just want to see as much as possible made public in the case.”
Judicial Watch claims [here, and here,] that the NYPD has a bias against transparency and disclosure, is embarrassed by its conduct in the Cardillo case, and does not want it brought back into the public eye.
Judicial Watch claims there are numerous unanswered questions:
Was there a broader conspiracy that inadvertently led to Cardillo’s death?
Who made the 10-13 call that drew police officers to the mosque that day?
Why were the mosque doors—usually closed and locked—left open that day?
What was behind a special prosecutor’s conclusion that there was a deliberate effort by NYPD brass to “impede” the early Cardillo investigation?
And what was the role of the FBI in all this?
Witnesses and documents suggest the FBI played a deeper role in the events surrounding the mosque case than they admit.
Did FBI dirty tricks inadvertently lead to Cardillo’s death?
Getting answers to those questions is why Judicial Watch says it is in court.
Judge Saunders will issue a ruling in the New York case soon.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Judicial Watch’s parallel case against the FBI is moving forward in federal court. The FBI is fighting recent allegations of widespread corruption, and it remains to be seen if this 46 year old case is part of a longstanding pattern of official corruption on the part of the disgraced federal law enforcement agency.