NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly today called for a grand jury investigation into last week’s shooting of unarmed National Guardsman Noel Polanco by an NYPD detective.
Kelly says there are still a lot of questions surrounding the seemingly unwarranted shooting, described by one witness as an act of “police road rage.”
“It will require what I believe to be a grand jury investigation to determine precisely what happened there,” Kelly told reporters this morning.
As we reported last week, Polanco, 22, was fatally shot about 5:15 a.m. Thursday after weaving through traffic and cutting of two NYPD vans on the Grand Central Parkway, near Exit 7 and LaGuardia Airport.
After Polanco was pulled over, NYPD Detective Hassan Hamdy approached the passenger-side door — and that’s when details get confusing.
Police initially said Polanco reached under his seat, at which point Hamdy fired once, hitting him in the torso. But one of two witnesses to the shooting gives a much different account.
Witness Diane DeFerrari, who was seated in the passenger seat at the time of the shooting, says as she, the victim, and another woman — off-duty NYPD officer Vanessa Rodriguez, who claims she slept through the entire thing — were weaving through traffic, the officers in the NYPD vans were harassing them, with some of the officers flipping them off out the window of the speeding van.
Once Polanco pulled over, she says several NYPD officers — including Hamdy — jumped out of the van with their rifles drawn.
She says that as the officers ordered Polanco to put his hands up, Hamdy fired the fatal shot.
“There was no time to put your hands up at all. They shot in front of my face,” DeFerrari tells the NY Post. “Had I moved an inch, it would probably have been me.”
After the shooting, she says one of the officers told her “your friend shot himself.” Polanco’s hands, she says, were on the steering wheel at all times.
Now, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne says it’s unclear whether Polanco moved after the officers told him to show them his hands.
Hamdy is no stranger to allegations of poor police work. In both 2001 and 2008, the city shelled out more than $225,000 to people who claim Hamdy and other cops he’s associated with for violating their rights.
The NYPD ignored multiple requests for comment.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown — as well as the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Unit — is looking into the shooting.