Family Seeks Answers After Shooting
By MEGAN MONTALVO
Unfair, unjust and atrocious -These are the words that local residents are using to describe a recent officer-involved shooting that took place near LaGuardia Airport last week.
On Oct. 4, reports surfaced that a 22-year-old Army National Guardsman was fatally shot by a detective on the Grand Central Parkway.
According to police, while behind the wheel of a black 2012 Honda Fit Hybrid, the driver, identified as Noel Polanco, had cut off two Emergency Service Unit Apprehension vehicles and began to tailgate a third car when a sergeant and detective stopped him.
At the scene, Detective Hassan Hamdy, a 14-year veteran, fired the single shot at Polanco’s torso. While there are conflicting accounts as to whether or not Polanco put his hands up, as he was ordered to do, no weapon was found in the car.
Two female passengers accompanied Polanco, one of which was an off-duty NYPD officer who told officers she had not witnessed anything as she was sleeping in the back seat.
Minutes before the police stop, the three friends were spotted leaving the Ice Lounge nightclub in Astoria, where the second female passenger worked.
On Saturday morning, Polanco’s distraught mother, Cecilia Reyes, stood with Rev. Al Sharpton at the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem to plea for a thorough inquiry in her son’s shooting.
“I’m not going to give up until I get justice,” Reyes said. “I want answers.”
The day before Reyes’ plea, the family had received a visit at their Queens home by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who is currently pushing for a grand jury investigation of Hamdy’s use of force.
Earlier this year, Hamdy had been hailed as a hero for rescuing civilians from a fire. However, during his time of service, he had also been at the center of two lawsuits that accused him of civil rights violations and police brutality.
Although the grand jury is yet to be confirmed, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said both his office and the NYPD is conducting an internal investigation.
“The events surrounding that which occurred early yesterday morning on the Grand Central Parkway in East Elmhurst are being investigated by my office and the New York City Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division,” Brown said in a statement released Friday. “The public can be assured that the investigation will be full, fair and complete. Until the investigation is concluded, my office will refrain from making any further comment.”
While Polanco’s friends and family are currently awaiting an official answer from the investigations, on Sunday night, they came together for a night of remembrance at the Ice Lounge.
As his loved ones held a vigil in front of the nightclub to help raise money for his grieving family, they recounted found memories of the slain soldier.
Memorial pictures and votive candles have been placed at the site in his honor.
Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or mmontalvo@ queenstribune.com