Long before he shot and killed Noel Polanco in a violent traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway, NYPD Det. Hassan Hamdy faced accusations of police brutality in federal court.
According to civil rights complaints filed in 2001 and 2007, Hamdy was part of two separate squads of officers accused of roughing up or mistreating citizens. In the most recent complaint, Tyrell Michael Garcia of Laurelton, Queens, accused Hamdy and several other officers of busting into his grandmother’s home without a warrant and beating him up by “kicking, punching and hitting him with their guns.”
The suit says Hamdy and other officers were working with the Queens Felony Warrant Squad when they falsely accused Garcia of a murder.
According to the civil complaint, the group of officers “allowed and encouraged a dog from the Canine Unit to bite” Garcia. The court document goes on to allege that the warrant squad caused further injury and threatened to rub Garcia up against a fence in a maneuver known as the “cheese grater.”
The city of New York ultimately settled that lawsuit – without admitting fault -- by paying Garcia $210,000. The city also paid Garcia’s grandmother $25,000 as part of the settlement.
Seven years earlier, before Hamdy had been promoted to detective, he and a group of 14 other NYPD officers were the target of another civil rights lawsuit. New York City taxpayers paid $291,000 to the victim in that case. Details of the case weren’t immediately available.
Hamdy is again at the center of violent controversy after shooting and killing Noel Polanco, a 22-year-old National Guardsman. Polanco was driving friends home from his job at a nightclub in Astoria, Queen, when he cut off an unmarked police van.
Polanco was pulled over, and according to friend and front-seat passenger Diana Deferrari, Hamdy and another officer stormed up to the vehicle with their guns drawn. They ordered Polanco to put his hands up, said Deferrari, but before he could raise them from the steering wheel, Hamdy shot him from the passenger-side window.
"This was an act of road rage by the police," said Deferrari.