Renaming street for slain Officer Phillip Cardillo could ‘open old wounds’
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is distancing himself from the plan to name the street in front of the 28th Precinct in the slain cop’s honor.
Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News
A plan to honor a Harlem cop killed by Nation of Islam radicals is drowning under a flood of racial tensions created more than four decades ago, but no one wants to throw it a lifeline — not even the NYPD’s new top cop.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is distancing himself from the controversial push to get the street in front of the 28th Precinct renamed in honor of Officer Phillip Cardillo, who was shot and killed inside a mosque run by Louis Farrakhan in 1972 — noting that the community should make the final decision.
“The Police Commissioner always welcomes the honoring and memorializing of fallen NYPD officers,” Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis, the NYPD’s top spokesman, said when asked if Bratton favored the street renaming. “However, the issue of street naming is primarily a decision for the community board and other local leaders.”
Cardillo’s family, friends, and former police officers marked the 42nd anniversary of the cop’s death with an annual motorcycle ride from his grave at Calvary Cemetery in Queens to the W. 123rd St. cop shop — and were not shy about lashing out against how Bratton sidestepped the issue.
“I don’t think it’s a good representation of his brotherhood of blue,” said Christopher Cardillo, 46, the fallen cop’s first cousin. “Why should the community’s vote have such a strong presence when we are talking about renaming a street outside a police station for a police officer? How could that be a bad thing for the community?”
Manhattan’s Community Board 10 hasn’t reviewed the proposal since last May, even though advocates pushing for the renaming handed over thousands of petition signatures and Inspector Rodney Harrison, the former commanding officer of the 28th Precinct, made a personal plea to honor Cardillo.
Before the issue was shelved, board members voiced concerns that the street renaming would displease local Muslims and “open old wounds.”
The racially-charged incident began when Cardillo, 31, and his partner, Vito Navarra, entered Mohammad Mosque No. 7 on W. 116th St. and Lenox Ave. — where Malcolm X once preached — after receiving a bogus 911 call about a detective in need of assistance.
The two cops were quickly overpowered by about 15 men. During the attack, someone took Cardillo’s gun and shot him in the chest.
The father of three children, the oldest 5, the youngest just 2, died of his wounds six days later.
Why should the community’s vote have such a strong presence when we are talking about renaming a street outside a police station for a police officer?
At the time, Farrakhan said the cops came “charging into our temple like criminals and were treated like criminals.”
Because of the political tensions at the time, the city apologized for what they called a police “invasion.” Neither Mayor John Lindsay nor Police Commissioner Donald Cawley attended Cardillo’s funeral, said family friend and retired NYPD Detective Randy Jergensen, who later wrote the book “Circle of Six” about the murder.
The main suspect in the shooting was Louis 17X Dupree. Dupree, who now goes by the name Khalid Ali and is in his 70s, was arrested twice for murder and was set free after two trials, officials said.
April 13, 2014 — Manhattan, NYPatrolman Phillip Cardillo was killed by the Nation of Islam radicals in 1970 while at the 28th Pct. in Harlem. A motorcycle ride starting at gravesite at Calvary Cemetery, Woodside Queens in honor of fallen officer.–Cardillo memorial plaque on the precinct wall.-Photograph COPYRIGHT Norman Y. Lono, 2014/for NYDN Norman Y. Lono/for New York Daily News Patrolman Phillip Cardillo’s memorial plaque on the 28th Precinct wall.
The NYPD’s Major Case Squad is still investigating the shooting, officials said.
Christopher Cardillo said the fallen cop’s three children are pretty close to giving up hope that an arrest will be made — or that the street will be named in their father’s honor.
“Haven’t we come far enough as a society to not be afraid of a race riot and tell the truth?” he asked. “If we can’t seek justice, then the least we can do is have a proper dedication to an officer who lost his life in the performance of his dut y.”
Attempts to reach the Nation of Islam for comment were not successful.