Family Rallies for National Guardsman Killed in Police Shooting

Tuesday, Feb 19, 2013  |  Updated 7:36 AM EDT
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Emotional Wake for Noel Polanco

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Cop Shoots, Kills Unarmed Man Near LGA

A police officer shot and killed a driver who was pulled over on a busy highway near LaGuardia Airport early Thursday because the cop mistakenly believed he had a gun, law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York.

Passenger Disputes Cops' Account of Shooting

A friend of 22-year-old Noel Polanco, who was shot in the driver's seat by police after being pulled over on Grand Central Parkway, disputes the police account that he was reaching for a gun. Gus Rosendale reports.
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The family of a National Guardsman killed during a traffic stop last fall rallied Saturday after a grand jury voted not to indict the NYPD detective who shot him.

"I'm very upset with the grand jury's decision," Noel Polanco's mother, Cecilia Reyes said Saturday inside the headquarters of the National Action Network in Harlem. "I feel that there was no justice served."

Detective Hassan Hamdy shot Polanco on Oct. 4 on the Grand Central Parkway near LaGuardia Airport. Polanco, 22, had been weaving in and out of traffic after a night of drinking and initially resisted police efforts to pull him over, authorities said.

Hamdy fired his gun after he saw Polanco reaching under his seat with both hands, his lawyer said.

But passenger Diane DeFerrari said there was nothing to provoke police to fire. She said officers yelled obscenities before pulling over their car and pointed their guns through her open window. She said the bullet that struck Polanco in the abdomen narrowly missed her.

DeFerrari said one of the officers told her, "Your friend shot himself."

An off-duty police officer, Vanessa Rodriguez, was asleep in the back seat and was awakened by the gunshot.

DeFerrari said she complied with an order to raise her hands but Polanco's hands remained on the steering wheel.

The shooting prompted an investigation by the Queens district attorney's office. District Attorney Richard Brown said the office conducted a thorough probe and presented all the evidence to the grand jury.

Lawyers for Polanco's family said they planned to ask federal prosecutors to review the case and that they would also be proceeding with a civil lawsuit against the city and the NYPD.

"I'm not giving up. I'm going to continue," Reyes said.

Hamdy, who remains on desk duty, could still face departmental charges following an internal review.

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