The Rev. Al Sharpton promised Saturday to support the mother of a National Guardsman shot to death by a New York City police officer during an appearance alongside her, but later made no mention of it at a panel with the police commissioner.
Noel Polanco, 22, was unarmed when he was shot Thursday after police pulled him over for a traffic violation near LaGuardia Airport. Police have offered no explanation for why a detective fired after approaching the car.
Sharpton hugged Polanco's mother, Cecilia Reyes, during the appearance at his Harlem headquarters and said it's "unthinkable for a mother to have to bury her child."
Sharpton said that "for unarmed innocent people to be killed is wrong and it's got to stop."
Reyes called her son "a great kid" who had hoped to be placed on active duty in the Army and then join the police department.
"I don't want to see any other person go through what I am feeling," the mother said. "We want to believe in the law."
Sharpton appeared later Saturday with Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly at a panel discussion on fighting crime in black communities.
Neither man addressed the Polanco shooting directly. Sharpton said he is happy to work with Kelly on efforts to take illegal guns off the streets even though they disagree on issues such as the department's stop-and-frisk policies.
"I disagree on stop and frisk but that does not mean I'm not going not to work with him on guns — even though I might stop him and frisk him on the way out of here," Sharpton quipped.
Kelly said 819 handguns were recovered during patdowns of people stopped on the street last year. "We believe this is a lifesaver," he said.
Asked about Polanco after the panel, Kelly said the department's investigation into the shooting "is going forward aggressively."
Kelly met with Reyes on Friday to offer the department's condolences for the loss of her son but he said details of the meeting were private.
According to civil rights complaints filed in 2001 and 2007, Hassan Hamdy, the officer who shot Polanco, was part of two separate squads of officers accused of roughing up or mistreating citizens.