Corona resident Cecilia Reyes, whose 22-year-old son Noel Polanco was fatally shot by an NYPD detective during a traffic stop, said she was devastated after a Queens grand jury decided against formally charging the officer.
“I’m angry. I’m hurt,” Reyes said at a news conference in Harlem with the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. “They didn’t do the justice that they needed to do for my son.”
Polanco, a member of the National Guard Reserves, worked at the Paragon Honda in Woodside and made hookahs.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced the grand jury’s decision last week. A member of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit Apprehension Team, Hamdy was one of several officers in two unmarked vans driving in the center lane eastbound on the Grand Central Parkway Oct. 4 at 5:15 a.m. when Polanco was seen in his black 2012 Honda Fit Hybrid near Exit 7 in East Elmhurst, the NYPD said.
Officers said they saw Polanco driving erratically in the right lane, cutting between the vans, tailgating another vehicle in the left lane, then cutting back in-between the vans to the right lane, police said.
Philip Karasyk, the attorney for Hamdy, said that after Polanco was pulled over, Hamdy saw Polanco reaching for something and shot him in the stomach, believing it to be a weapon. One of the two passengers in the car, Diane DeFerrari, told reporters Polanco kept his hands on the steering wheel. The other passenger, off-duty Officer Vanessa Rodriguez, was sleeping at the time.
No weapon was found in the car, the DA said. Polanco died shortly after being shot at New York Hospital Queens in Flushing.
Karasyk said officers operate on a scale of escalating threat. He said Polanco at first refused to pull over after driving erratically, had to be boxed in by the two vans, then did not show his hands when asked twice, each of which raised the threat level.
“The police officer is not required to see the glint of steel before he fires,” Karasyk said.
He said Hamdy was extremely relieved by the jury’s decision.
“No police officer ever wants to be faced with such a life or death, split-second decision. It stays with them forever,” he said. “[Hamdy] once again extends his sincere condolences to the Polanco family.”
Reyes broke down sobbing multiple times during the news conference. She called Hamdy a “murderer” and she was determined to continue to fight for her son.
“It’s not fair for anyone to say that it was OK for him to get shot and there was no weapon,” Reyes said.
Robert Mijuca, a partner in the Brooklyn firm of Rubenstein & Rynecki, which is representing Reyes, said they are proceeding with a civil suit against Hamdy and are calling on U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to investigate the shooting for any civil rights violations.
He said he is also calling upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo to create an independent agency to deal with allegations of police misconduct instead of the local district attorneys, who have a relationship with the police.
“We’re going to continue our quest,” Mijuca said. “This is just a small obstacle in our way.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2013 Community News Group
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