NYPD Officer Shoots Unarmed National Guardsman: A Lot of Questions, No Answers

Noel Polanco was fatally shot by an NYPD officer yesterday. He was unarmed at the time.
Noel Polanco was fatally shot by an NYPD officer yesterday. He was unarmed at the time.

An NYPD officer fatally shot an unarmed National Guardsman early yesterday morning, and the agency is yet to offer a reasonable explanation as to how it happened.

The dead soldier is 22-year-old Noel Polanco. He was pulled over about 5:15 a.m. yesterday after he was seen weaving in and out of traffic on the Grand Central Parkway, near Exit 7 and LaGuardia Airport.

The NYPD hasn't responded to multiple requests for an explanation of how an unarmed soldier was shot by a police officer, but it offers the following account to 1010 WINS:

As two unmarked Emergency Service Unit Apprehension Team vans were heading eastbound in the center lane, the vehicle being driven by Polanco cut in between the two ESU vehicles and then started tailgating another car, according to police.

When Polanco cut in between the ESU vans a second time, the officers pulled over Polanco with one ESU van pulling in front of him and the second pulling up behind it, according to police.

That's when a sergeant and a detective, who were both in uniform, got out and walked up to Polanco's car.

Two women were also inside the car -- his bartender co-worker in the passenger seat and her friend, an off-duty cop, in the backseat, police said.

Both women were questioned Thursday. The off-duty officer was asleep at the time of the shooting, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported.

When authorities ordered the front seat passengers to put their hands up, Polanco reportedly reached under a seat when the shooting occurred...

The officer apparently assumed Polanco was reaching for a weapon. However, no weapon was recovered from the vehicle.

"He probably got pulled over and said, 'Listen, I'm gonna reach for this and get my military ID.' I've been in the car with him all the time.  Whenever he got pulled over he said 'Listen, my military ID [is] right here, I'm gonna reach for it," friend Tito Cordero tells the network.

His family gives the following account:

Polanco's uncle said he cannot believe his nephew is dead.

"He's not like that. The first thing he would do was lower the window because his windows were tinted," Mike Almo told WCBS 880′s Diamond. "I know for sure the first thing would have been that -- he would have lowered a window. He probably went to reach the car, to put it in park and the cop probably saw something different."

"He never carries a gun, he's a military guy -- he was leaving in two weeks again and he's about to go active again," one of Polanco's friends told 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg. "There's no negative on this kid."

"The kid just came home from war. He didn't die at war but he died by the police."

As for the other officer being asleep -- as we mentioned yesterday -- if we were stopped by a cop and had a sleeping cop in the car with us, the first thing we're gonna do is wake her up to speak with the officer who's pulling us over -- hope that perhaps a little professional courtesy might lead to a warning rather than a ticket, or worse.

This officer, however, remained in slumber -- she didn't see a thing.

Authorities, apparently, are interviewing the officer who shot Polanco. Check back for updates.

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