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Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against NYPD on Cardillo murder lands in court; Did corrupt FBI have role in death of policeman?

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.


About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • I would like to mention an individual who was very involved in this case, his never-ending desire to bring a killer to justice, his devotion to law enforcement makes him the HERO he was and continues to be, retired NYPD HERO Detective, Randy Jurgensen, a real gentleman, a cops’ cop, a great father, great husband, great family man, and someone I, and so many others, are proud to know, and call, FRIEND……
    P.S. If you are a reader, and want a GREAT book to read, look for and get “CIRCLE OF SIX” the unbelievable, but true, story of New Yorks most notorious cop killer, and the cop who risked it all, to catch him…….written by Randy Jurgensen and Robert Cea, it is a book that is long overdue to be turned into a great movie……

  • The CARDILLO case is an unbelievable, but true event in the annals of the NYPD. It took 46 years to name a street in honor of this HEROIC officer who did nothing more, than his job. Going into what turned out to be a hell-hole in order to save what he thought was an officer in trouble, an officer who needed help, but turned out to be a false report. Ptl Phil Cardillo rushed to assist the officer not knowing the ethnicity or color of skin of the officer, just that an officer was in trouble, and then, paid the ultimate sacrifice. We all owe a debt of gratitude to PTL Phillip CARDILLO, and his family, 46 years to finally acknowledge him, and to think if Al Sharpton died yesterday, today, they would name a boulevard in his honor…….where is the justice? We in law enforcement will NEVER, EVER, FORGET, CARDILLO……………10-4

  • Every American should read “Circle of Six” by Randy Jurgensen, a book that documents this case.