Judicial Watch Sues DOJ, City of NY and NYPD for Information on Unsolved Murder of a New York Policeman at Nation of Islam Mosque
New York lawsuit refutes NYPD claim that investigation into 45-year-old murder ‘remains active and ongoing’
FOIA lawsuit raises questions of possible FBI involvement, having provoked incident with fake ‘10-13’ officer in distress phone call
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it has filed suit against the Justice Department, as well as the City of New York and the New York Police Department (NYPD), to compel these state and federal agencies to release information regarding the April 14, 1972 murder of police officer Phillip Cardillo at a mosque in Harlem. Cardillo was killed while responding to a fake “10-13” officer in distress phone call.
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice after it failed to adequately search for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s May 15 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-024687)). Judicial Watch 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.
- The time frame for the request was identified as January 1, 1970 to January 1, 1973.
Judicial Watch argues that the DOJ “has violated FOIA by failing and/or refusing to employ search methods reasonably likely to lead to the discovery of records responsive to accordingly, failing and/or refusing to produce any and all non-exempt records responsive to the [FOIA] request.”
Judicial Watch sued New York City and the NYPD after they failed to respond to June 5 Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests (Judicial Watch v. The City of New York and the New York City Police Department (No. 0160286/2017)). Judicial Watch seeks:
- The audio tape of the 10-13 “officer in distress” call recorded by the Police Communications Division at 11:41 m. on April 14, 1972; and
- The Major Case Squad report and files on the homicide of NYPD Patrolman Philip Cardillo.
In its complaint, Judicial Watch notes that, “[NY City and NYPD] have yet to provide one responsive document and only have provided conclusory, unsubstantiated, non-specific bases for denial by an individual with no personal knowledge of the underlying investigation.”
Judicial Watch disputes the claim made by NY City and the NYPD that the case is ongoing. Judicial Watch also points out that the denial of its records request is missing key information required by the open records law.
A New York Post article titled: “Did an FBI call accidentally kill an NYPD officer?,” written by Judicial Watch Chief Investigative Reporter Micah Morrison, details Officer Cardillo’s murder:
A 10-13 is every cop’s worst nightmare, a red alert meaning “officer in distress.”
Two policemen, Phillip Cardillo and Vito Navarra, rushed to the address, which was the Muhammed Mosque #7 of the Nation of Islam. Its leader, Louis Farrakhan, had offices on the third floor.
The mosque doors, usually bolted shut and manned by the Nation of Islam’s own paramilitary force, the Fruit of Islam, were unlocked and unguarded.
In the reception area, Cardillo and Navarra encountered six men. Navarra darted up the stairs. Somewhere up on the second floor, he believed, a brother officer was in serious trouble. He was met by 10 men who forced him back down the stairs.
Nine more cops rushed into the reception area. A fight broke out.
Cardillo died from his injuries six days after the fake 10-13 call. A suspect was tried twice but not convicted. The NYPD’s Major Case Squad reopened the investigation in 2006.
“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.”
New York attorney Ethan Leonard from the Law Offices of Neal Brickman P.C. is representing Judicial Watch.