April 14, 1972-The New York City Police Department’s 28th Precinct receives a ten-thirteen, the code for an officer in distress. Units are dispatched and responding officers enter the location given by the caller, West 116th Street and Malcolm X. Blvd. The building is the Nation of Islam’s Muslim Mosque No. 7, then under the control of Minister Louis Farrakhan. The officers are locked inside, beaten severely and Officer Philip Cardillo is mortally wounded in the sternum and later dies from his wounds. The responding officers are ordered out of the mosque by superiors and members of the Nation of Islam begin to clean the building, contaminating crucial evidence and rendering future investigations nearly impossible. Cardillo’s killer remained hidden for several years and it seemed as if his identity would never be known. However one New York City Police Detective refused to give up and risked his entire career to see the killer brought to justice. This is the story of Det. Randy Jurgensen (Ret.) and his never-ending efforts to catch the murderer of Philip Cardillo.
Jurgensen was one of the many officers that responded to the scene and gives us a play-by-play description of the events as they transpired. He was critically wounded himself that day and the encounter between the police and the NOI nearly resulted in a complete riot. Upon his recovery he is tasked with investigating Cardillo’s murder, but as we see in the book, it was nearly an impossible feat as he faced obstruction on all fronts and incredibly, within the NYPD. Political aspirations and social concerns resulted in NYPD brass instituting strict controls over the ensuing investigation and a potential mutiny by patrol officers with the backing of the PBA, threatened to bring New York City to a complete halt. The submission of power by the NYPD and public officials to the NOI under Farrakhan’s control served to demoralized the detectives pursuing Cardillo’s killer and the officers that stood near his side on that tragic day in April, 1972.
Jurgensen purposely changed the name of some of the individuals in the book for obvious reasons. But their actions and the wall of stone he encounters throughout the book will cause the reader to question the value placed upon those who put their lives on the line every day in service to the City of New York. A brush with death is sometimes hidden behind the next corner and every call has the potential to be the last. But nonetheless, the men and women of the NYPD continue to do their Jurgensen refuses to give up and his efforts pay off in the apprehension of Cardillo’s killer. The arrest and subsequent trial are bittersweet moments highlighting the precarious nature of a jury in trial with strong racial overtones. We are forced to examine ourselves and our beliefs towards law enforcement and the concept of right and wrong. The end result may not be what the reader will expect but shining moment in the book is the truth surrounding Cardillo’s murder being revealed at last. It is a moment that will cause pride to surface in the heart of every New York City Police Officer. Today the City hardly resembles its 1972 version. The Nation of Islam is still prevalent but the Muslim Mosque No. 7 has since relocated. Minister Louis Farrakhan continues to remain the in the public light although he has advanced into his senior years. Randy Jurgensen entered Hollywood following his retirement and worked as a technical consultant on ‘The French Connection’, ‘The Cruiser’ and ‘Donnie Brasco’. He continues to honor Cardillo’s memory and has pushed for the renaming of a street in the late officer’s name. Jurgensen will even make a return to Hollywood as this book is set to be adapted by the silver screen. Cardillo will never been forgotten and for Jurgensen, Farrakhan and the others present on April 14, 1972, the events of that day will remain firmly implanted in their memories until their last day. This is an invaluable part of New York City history as told through the incredible story of the circle of six.