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Randy Jurgensen, born in Harlem on December 7, 1933, is a former NYPD detective, best known as the lead investigator in the murder of patrolman Phil Cardillo.
As well as his pioneering contribution as a consultant on various film and television projects.
Youth and career
Jurgenson was born in 1933 to Elizabeth and Randolf Jurgenson in Harlem, NY.
He is a Harlemite who served in the United States Army as a paratrooper and participated in the Battle of Pork Chop Hill during the Korean War. It was decorated with three bronze stars and a purple heart.
After serving in the army, he joined the New York Police Department in 1958 as a patrolman and was quickly promoted to detective.
In the early 1960s, Jurgensen and his partner did undercover work investigating gay murders in New York City.
The homosexuals were targeted by two attackers posing as police officers.
This investigation inspired the movie Cruising, with East Harlem’s Al Pacino playing his character.
He worked undercover to investigate members of the Black Liberation Army. At one point, the BLA placed a $50,000 bounty on his head, which is believed to still exist today.
From 1973 to 1976, he led the investigation into the murder of officer Phil Cardillo.
He was forced to retire from the NYPD, pleading nolo contendere to a series of charges brought by the NYPD.
While still a detective for the NYPD, he began working on films as a consultant. He made the transition to a career as an actor and film producer and appeared in over 30 films.
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1972 Harlem mosque incident
On April 14, 1972, dispatchers received a 9-1-1 call from “Detective Thomas”, claiming to need assistance at the Nation of Islam’s No. 7 Mosque on West 116th Street in Harlem.
Here is a video that provides insight into Mr. Jurgensen:
Five uniformed officers responded. What happened next is still disputed. Police say they were overpowered and assaulted upon arrival; When additional officers arrived, a melee ensued, in which Officer Cardillo was shot at close range, and several officers were seriously injured.
Imam Louis Farrakhan and other worshipers at the Nation of Islam mosque say police interrupted them with guns during prayers and refused repeated requests to wait or at least leave their guns, that their faith forbade being worn in a place of worship, outside.
At a press conference the next day, he claimed it was a premeditated attack and that the 9-1-1 call was a ruse.
Jurgensen was assigned the case in 1974 after initial investigator Basil “Sleepy” Slepwitz retired. Many obstacles were placed in his way.
Specifically, he was not allowed to visit the crime scene. He requested that any detective in other neighborhoods inform him when a Muslim in the city was arrested.
This was done so he could interview the person arrested in the hope that there might be a connection to other people who were in the mosque at the time of the shooting.
After years of unsuccessful interviews, he got his chance when Foster 2X Thomas was arrested for credit card fraud.
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Thomas was a baker at the mosque and present on the day of Cardillo’s murder.
Thomas eventually testified at the murder trial of Lewis 17X Dupree, who was acquitted after two trials.
In 2006 Jurgensen published his first book, Circle of Six, which is an account of the mosque incident and the ensuing investigation.
After the book’s release, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly launched a new investigation.
Kelly was an NYPD sergeant at the time of the mosque incident and knew Jurgensen. In 2012, the NYPD announced that the investigation had turned up no new evidence.
Campaign in honor of Cardillo
Jurgensen was actively involved in the campaign to have a street in New York City renamed in honor of patrolman Cardillo, which was finally achieved in 2015 when the street in front of the Queens Police Academy was renamed “Patrolman Philip Cardillo way”.
Jurgensen began working as a technical consultant in the motion picture industry, when he was a detective for the NYPD.
His work has been instrumental in creating such notable films as The French Connection, Donnie Brasco and Cruising.
Photo credit: 1) Wikipedia. 2) Youtube.com. 3) Mosque No. 7 today, known as the Malcolm Shabazz Mosque.