Honoring Philip Cardillo, Slain in 1972, Retired Officers Form New FOP Lodge in Flagler
FlaglerLive | March 22, 2012
The cop-killing was never solved.
On April 14, 1972, New York City Police Patrolman Philip Cardillo and his partner, Patrolman Victor Padilla, responded to a call about a detective in distress inside Muhammad’s Temple No. 7, a black Muslim mosque at the corner of 116th Street and Lenox Avenue in Manhattan, led by Louis Farrakhan, the frequently racist firebrand and leader of the Nation of Islam. It was the same temple Malcolm X had led before his assassination by black Muslim thugs in 1965.
The distress Cardillo and Padilla were answering call turned out to be bogus. But by day’s end, New York had experienced its first major racial riot of the year, Cardillo was in critical condition with gunshot wounds to the chest. He died on April 20. His partner had been slashed in the face, and three other officers had been hurt.
Thousands of people had massed around the mosque. Farrakhan himself had climbed on top of a car and urged people to “just be cool.” One policeman had fired into the mosque’s entrance hall, which led police to, as the New York Times reported the following day, “not exclude the possibility that one of the shots might have hit the policeman.” Haywood Burns, leader of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, had witnessed the events, and said at the time that “the only ones I saw doing the beating and the shooting were white.”
But an examination of the shooting subsequently showed that Cardillo had been shot at point-blank range, with powder burns on his jacket showing that “the gun muzzle was held against his jacket,” according to a communique by Acting Police Commissioner William Smith released 10 days after the shooting. “The bullet passed through the body,” the communique went on, and “his gun was recovered with one shot having been fired.”
As police took their wounded patrolmen out of the mosque, residents gathered outside shouted “I hope you die, you pigs,” and “I hope you drop dead.”
Cardillo was 31, and had been on the force five years. Two Muslims were charged in assaulting Padilla. But Cardillo’s killer was never brought to justice. Hours after Cardillo was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Queens, Deputy Inspector John Haugh, commanding officer of the Harlem precinct where Cardillo was shot, resigned in protest because the NYPD failed to explicitly state that Cardillo was “acting in a totally proper manner” when he responded to the call at the mosque.
Delivering the homily at the funeral, Joseph Dunne, the police chaplain, said Cardillo “was betrayed by a false report–a call for assistance–and an overreaction to proper police procedure,” as the New York Times reported at the time, and that “his action was correct in the line of duty.”
Cardillo had a wife and three young children, all under 7 years old, when he was killed. Subsequently, the surviving Cardillo family members relocated here in Palm Coast, where they remain residents.
Earlier this month, a group of retired police officers from various departments across the country gathered to form Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #171 in Flagler County. They named the new lodge in honor of Cardillo.
The mission of this lodge is to cultivate and encourage fraternalism, offer mutual helpfulness among members, assist with local charities and the community.
The lodge is open to all qualified active or retired law enforcement officers from any duly recognized law enforcement agency. For information, please call Ed Aviles at 386/569-4473 or 386/446-4618.
The New York Times story the day after the riot and shooting at Mosque #7; click on the image for larger view: