Here’s what we know about last week’s officer-involved shooting that left an unarmed National Guardsman dead: there were two police vans full of cops who pulled over reservist Noel Polanco. He had no weapon at the time of the shooting, and witnesses say he had his hands on the steering wheel the entire time.
Additionally, two witnesses — one of whom is an NYPD officer who claims she was sleeping in the back of Polanco’s car at the time of the shooting — say that immediately after the shooting, officers at the scene told them “your friend shot himself.”
Despite the small army of cops on the scene, and the fact that Polanco had no visible weapon — or any weapon at all, it turns out — the NYPD detective who fatally shot him, 14-year NYPD veteran Hassan Hamdy, claims he feared for his life; he says he was justified in shooting Polanco and is “eager” to tell his side of the story.
Yesterday, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said a grand jury probe of the
shooting probably is necessary, and Queens District Attorney Richard
Brown announced last week that his office is investigating the incident.
cooperate with the grand jury and the detective is looking forward to
relating his version of events,” Hamdy’s attorney, Philip Karasyk, told
He goes on to say that Hamdy “felt threatened and was left with no other alternative other than the actions that he took.”
to witness Diane DeFerrari, who was sitting in the passenger seat of
Polanco’s car when Hamdi fired the fatal shot, the actions taken by
police included several NYPD officers — including Hamdy — jumping out
of a van with their rifles drawn when Polanco pulled over to the side of
the road after weaving through traffic, angering the officers
says that as the officers ordered Polanco to put his hands up, Hamdy shot him in the torso.
“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.”
She maintains that Polanco’s hands
stayed on the steering wheel the entire time, despite claims by police
that he reached under the seat.
DeFerrari describes the incident
as an act of police “road rage” — she says the officers in the two vans,
which she claims were unmarked, were mad when Polanco cut them off.
tried to run us off the road,” DeFerrari said yesterday. “They [police]
were shouting obscenities and the driver was sticking his middle
finger out at us,” she continued. “Noel sped up to get away from the
There were no sirens, just lights. I told Noel to stop the car, but we
caught a clearing and took off.”
Then, she says, after Polanco pulled
over, several NYPD officers jumped out of the van — guns drawn — and
Hamdy shot Polanco as his hands were on the wheel in plain sight.
But according to Hamdy, he was justified in shooting the unarmed soldier — he was scared.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 9, 2012