The mother of an unarmed former National Guardsman who was fatally shot during a traffic stop along a busy Queens highway met Thursday with the Queens district attorney and prosecutors who will investigate the case, a spokeswoman for the family said.
Cecilia Reyes says she wants "justice" for her 22-year-old son Noel Polanco, who was shot once in the stomach by Detective Hassan Hamdy last week near LaGuardia Airport. No weapon was found in Polanco's car.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said a grand jury will have to determine what happened. The Queens prosecutor's office said Thursday that will likely happen.
On Wednesday, mourners tried to console family members at a wake for Polanco, but there was little they could say to ease the pain of losing a son and brother so suddenly and violently.
"It hurts. I just wish I had my final goodbye," said Polanco's sister Amanda Reyes. "He never disrespected, he never got arrested, he never got in trouble, and it's why it's shocking to me. Because I know how my brother is as a person."
Polanco was driving a co-worker, Diana Deferrari, and her friend home after his shift at the Ice Lounge in Astoria when he cut off an unmarked police van and officers pulled him over.
Police said Polanco reached under his seat to grab what they thought was a gun, prompting the detective on the passenger side of the vehicle to fire the fatal single shot into Polanco's stomach. The item under Polanco's seat turned out to be a yellow electric power drill with a black handle, law enforcement sources have said.
Deferrari disputes that Polanco had time to comply with officers' requests to show his hands. She said his hands were on the steering wheel the entire time and that he never had a chance to reach under his seat because he was shot so quickly.
The anger was palpable at the wake in Rego Park. Friends wore shirts honoring Polanco, and others held up signs demanding justice.
"Why is it that if you're a policeman in an unmarked car and out of uniform, and someone cuts in front of you, you kill them?" questioned neighbor Marianela Sarotis.
Friends and family have maintained Polanco was a caring, hard-working man -- a "quiet, good kid," by all accounts. He served four years in the U.S. Army National Guard, and returned with a goal of eventually joining the NYPD.