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The Nation of Islam and the Murder of Phillip Cardillo
by Ernie Naspretto
The NYPD has had more than its share of tragedies coupled with travesties throughout its history, everything from the legendary Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino being shot to death in an ambush in Sicily in 1909 because the police commissioner blew his cover by telling the press of his mission to identify members of the mafia, to the infamous Black Liberation Army murders of radio car partners in the early '70's, to the assassination of rookie cop Ed Byrne in 1988 as he sat in a radio car guarding the home of a witness in a major drug case in Jamaica, Queens. But the single most abhorrent police officer murder in this city's history is that of Phillip Cardillo in Harlem's 28th precinct on April 14th, 1972.
While this murder has been basically thrown into the collective history of cops dying in the line of duty, with no specific "asterisk" relating to the internal department turmoil and incredible wimpy political posturing of the then-mayor and his police commissioner, Officer Cardillo's death has left an indelible wound on every cop from that time. Even officers who weren't yet born at the time of Phillip Cardillo's killing express outrage when they learn the circumstances of his murder.
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