QUEENS, N.Y. (PIX11) — NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill DeBlasio told PIX11 News Wednesday they are reviewing ways to publicly honor slain police officer Phillip Cardillo more than 42 years after he was killed in a controversial 1972 shooting inside a Harlem mosque.
“I think within the department, we are perfectly positioned to insure that that officer’s memory will be honored,” Bratton told PIX11. “And we are currently reviewing our options to do just that.” When PIX11 requested clarification, asking “public recognition?” Bratton replied, “That’s correct.”
That recognition has been 42 years in the making. And it bears noting that when Cardillo was killed, neither the police commissioner nor mayor at the time, John Lindsay, attended his funeral.
On April 14, 1972, Cardillo responded to a call of 10-13, police officer in need of assistance, at 102 West 116th Street in Manhattan. It turned out the location was a Nation of Islam mosque run by Louis Farrakhan. It was known as Mosque #7, the same mosque where Malcolm X preached before he was assassinated in the 1960s.
Rudy Andre was a new patrolman from the 28th Precinct, who responded to the location a bit later than Cardillo. When he arrived, the front doors to the mosque were locked, but “I see two officers with their backs to me getting the hell beaten out of them,” Andre recalled to PIX11.
Andre used his service revolver to break the glass on a tiny window and an Emergency Services cop helped him get in the front door.
“Phil is laying on his back, bleeding from his nose, bleeding from his mouth,” Andre told PIX11. “I stopped momentarily and said, ‘Philly, you’re going to be alright. God’s going to look out for you,’” Andre said. Another officer was also lying unconscious on the floor.
Andre didn’t know at the time that Officer Cardillo had been shot in the torso, by someone using his police gun.
Andre said he ran to the basement with other cops, where 16 members of the mosque were stopped for questioning. One of them, Bobby Hopes, had blood on his lapel and was missing a shoe.
Andre said when he moved Hopes upstairs, he noticed the other shoe near a pool of blood, where Cardillo had been laying. Cardillo had been moved to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he died six days later.
Andre recalled Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, arriving at the mosque in a rage, angry that police officers entered the place of worship with loaded weapons. Andre said the 10-13 call had been a fake, and said of the caller “He identified himself as a Detective Thomas of the 28 Precinct. “ PIX 11 asked if that was a real person. “No, it was a phony call,” Andre told us.
Al Seedman, then-NYPD Chief of Detectives, was taking statements, when Farrakhan arrived with Congressman Charles Rangel. Later, Deputy NYPD Commissioner for Community Affairs, Benjamin Ward, showed up, and according to Andre, “Ward ordered all the white officers out of the mosque.” Andre said when he went upstairs, he noticed members of the mosque milling around the area where Officer Cardillo had been laying. “Where his blood was, they had a mop and they were cleaning up what should have been a crime scene.”
Andre recalled that Farrakhan and Rangel made plans with the NYPD brass to produce the other suspects at the 24th Precinct that evening, but none of them ever showed up.
Two years later, a suspect, Lewis 17 X Dupree, was arrested for Officer Cardillo’s murder, fingered by another member of the mosque.
The first trial ended with a hung jury. The second trial ended with a not guilty verdict.
Andre told PIX 11 News the jury had trouble with the lack of a secure “crime scene.”
Officer Cardillo’s youngest son, along with Andre and other colleagues from the NYPD, have collected several thousand petitions in recent years, hoping to have the small street outside the 28th Precinct renamed Patrolman Phillip Cardillo Way. But there’s been resistance from Community Board 10 in Harlem, which said it feared re-opening old wounds.
When Andre and the Cardillo family heard the library at the NYPD’s new Police Academy in College Point, Queens, would be named for the late Police Commissioner, Ben Ward, the Cardillo family’s wounds were re-opened.
“He was part of the reason there was no crime scene,” Todd Cardillo told PIX 11.
The younger Cardillo spoke with pride of how his father wanted to serve in the inner city.
“My father requested to be assigned to Harlem. He wanted to make a difference. He walked around, he made friends with people of the community,” Cardillo said.
Todd Cardillo was only a year old, when his father was killed. Now he wants the NYPD to do the right thing—and publicly acknowledge that Patrolman Phillip Cardillo made the ultimate sacrifice.