Tag Archives: Grand Central Parkway

Mother of slain National Guardsman vows justice despite grand jury ruling


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

Even after the verdict was final, Cecilia Reyes vowed her son would get justice.

Reyes, the mother of Noel Polanco, the 22-year-old National Guardsman who was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway on October 4, was outraged by the court’s ruling that her son’s killer would not be tried.

On February 14, after five weeks of deliberations, a Queens grand jury determined criminal charges would not be filed against Hassan Hamdy, the NYPD officer who fatally shot Polanco. In a statement, District Attorney Richard A. Brown indicated he would not provide the reason behind the grand jury’s decision and called Polanco’s death “a tragedy.”
Regardless of the ruling, Reyes remained determined to ensure her son, who aspired to become a police officer, did not die in vain.

Joined by Polanco’s sister Amanda, Reyes addressed the grand jury’s ruling at the National Action Network’s (NAN) Harlem headquarters on February 16. NAN founder the Rev. Al Sharpton gave the eulogy at Polanco’s funeral and has remained invested in the case.

“I’m very upset. I’m very, very angry at the justice system,” said Reyes. “I’m angry. I’m hurt. They didn’t do the justice that they needed to do for my son. But I’m not giving up. I’m continuing on and I’m going to fight with every being in my life.”

Polanco was pulled over when he was spotted driving erratically in his black 2012 Honda Fit, weaving between lanes and speeding on the Grand Central Parkway before allegedly cutting off an unmarked police vehicle. Hamdy allegedly fired the single shot that killed Polanco when he told him to put his hands on the steering wheel and Polanco reached under the seat. Testimony from two eye witnesses driving with Polanco, Diane DeFerrari, a bartender and Polanco’s neighbor, and Vanessa Rodriguez, an off-duty police officer, persisted with the claim that Polanco followed orders from the officer.

No weapon was discovered in Polanco’s car.

“My son had no weapon and yet the officer gets away with this,” said Reyes. “If it was to be someone else in the street, right away they would prosecute this kid – this officer was still a murderer, no matter what.”

According to reports, the family intends to pursue the case in civil court.

 

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No criminal charges to be filed in Grand Central Parkway shooting death of Army reservist


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

A Queens grand jury concluded Thursday that there will be no criminal charges filed in connection to the death of Army reservist Noel Polanco who was shot by a police officer on the Grand Central Parkway last fall, said District Attorney Richard Brown.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly requested the grand jury investigation just days after the 22-year-old was killed during a seemingly routine traffic stop.

According to the NYPD,  around 5:15 a.m. on October 4, 2012, officers in two unmarked vehicles spotted a Honda driving erratically, weaving between lanes and speeding on the Grand Central Parkway. The car allegedly tailgated another vehicle before cutting between the unmarked police cars. The officers signaled for the Honda to pull over near the exit for LaGuardia Airport. Police approached the vehicle and one of the officers, Hassan Hamdy, fired a single round into Polanco’s abdomen. He was taken to New York Hospital Queens where he was pronounced dead at 5:50 a.m.

According to Sanford Rubenstein, the attorney for Diane DeFerrari, one of the vehicle’s passengers,  Polanco complied with the officer’s request to keep his hands visible.

“There’s no question that she [DeFerrari] saw the driver with his hands on the wheel when he was shot,” said Rubenstein.

-Reporting by Alexa Altman and Cristabelle Tumola 

 

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Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 58. Calm wind becoming south 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon. Friday night: A slight chance of showers between 9pm and midnight. Cloudy, then gradual clearing toward daybreak, with a low around 40.

EVENT of the DAY: Improvius Maximus

Some of the best improv teams, from all corners of the land, gather to compete for Emperor Nero’s pleasure and yours in acclaimed comedy group Face Off Unlimited’s newest show. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Couple offers Ohio home rent-free to Superstorm Sandy victims

A warm-hearted Midwestern couple is offering free rent on an empty four-bedroom house — the only catch is that the tenants must have lost just about everything in Superstorm Sandy. Lauri Weinfeld, 56, and her husband Irwin Weinfeld, 69, are donating their rental house, in Perry Township, Ohio, to storm victims for four months free. Tenants will be responsible for their own utilities. Read more: Daily News

City Harvest salvages food from eateries to deliver to local storm victims

Members of the food rescue group City Harvest picked up meals donated from local restaurants and kitchens and delivered them throughout areas of Queens, Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan that were greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday Wednesday. Read more: NY1

Driver killed after crash on Queens highway

A motorist was killed this morning after crashing on a Queens highway, police said. The 53-year-old victim was driving his 2011 Honda Accord eastbound on the Grand Central Parkway, near the Jackie Robinson Parkway interchange in Forest Hills, when he lost control and slammed into a median at around 3:20 a.m., police added. Read more: NY Post

Internal emails offer details on Osama Bin Laden’s burial

After his dramatic death at the hands of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six, Osama bin Laden’s last rites were kept so covert his corpse was referred to as “the package” and no sailors watched the burial at sea. Read more: Daily News

City outreach efforts abound this Thanksgiving

With so many New Yorkers still struggling to recover from Sandy, the city and other volunteer groups are trying to give them something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office said more than 26,000 Thanksgiving meals were expected to be handed out Thursday. Read more: NY1

Cops investigating whether Holy Cross HS coach had inappropriate contact with students he ‘watched shower’

The NYPD is investigating whether the hoops coach at Holy Cross HS in Queens had any inappropriate contact with the students he’s accused of watching take showers, law-enforcement sources told The Post yesterday. Read more: NY Post

Burglary is crime du jour post-Sandy, stats show

Some of the most cold-hearted locals saw a storm-torn Rockaway peninsula as the location for the perfect heist. Police are waging an offensive against brazen looters and dishonest tow-truck drivers in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, NYPD officials said. Read more: Daily News

Mother & son busted with illegal cigarettes & $132,000 in cash

A Queens mother and her son were arrested with 677 cartons of illegal Asian cigarettes and $132,000 in cash, authorities announced today. Ying-Jian Lin, 48, and Xiao Lin, 23, face up to four years in prison for peddling the shady smokes, which are untaxed and don’t carry the required surgeon general warnings, according to a Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Read more: NY Post

 

Ray Kelly calls for grand jury investigation into Polanco death


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

PHOTO COURTESY OF FACEBOOK

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is requesting a grand jury investigation following last week’s fatal shooting of 22-year-old Army Reserve member Noel Polanco by a police officer.

According to the NYPD, on Thursday, October 4 around 5:15 a.m., officers in two unmarked vehicles spotted an eastbound, black 2012 Honda Fit hybrid driving erratically, weaving between lanes and speeding on the Grand Central Parkway. The car allegedly tailgated another vehicle before cutting between the unmarked police cars. The officers signaled for the Honda to pull over near the exit for LaGuardia Airport. Police approached the vehicle and fired a single round into Polanco’s abdomen. He was taken to New York Hospital Queens where he was pronounced dead at 5:50 a.m.

During the incident, two other passengers were inside the car: Diane DeFerrari, a bartender and Polanco’s neighbor, and Vanessa Rodriguez, an off-duty police officer. DeFerrari was sitting in the passenger’s seat during the incident and Rodriguez was allegedly asleep in the back seat.

According to DeFerrari’s attorney Sanford Rubenstein, Polanco complied with the officer’s request to keep his hands visible.

“There’s no question that she [DeFerrari] saw the driver with his hands on the wheel when he was shot,” said Rubenstein.

The police officer who allegedly fired the shot is Hassan Hamdy, who according to published reports was involved in a 2007 lawsuit for use of excessive force.

The district attorney released a statement, assuring the public that the event will be investigated in a “full, fair and complete” manner by the New York City Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division. The DA’s office declined any further comment.

Moez Abouelnaga, owner of Ice Lounge NYC in Astoria where Polanco worked as a hookah preparer, remembered his co-worker as a good-hearted, friendly person.

“He was a good kid,” said Abouelnaga. “Anything you asked him to do he would do it. He never asked for extra anything. He was very friendly. He got along with everyone.”

Polanco, who was known by the nickname “Sparxx,” graduated from Hillcrest High School in 2007 and was a member of the Army Reserve unit stationed in Kingston, New York. Reports say he had aspirations of joining the NYPD.

“He was a humble kid, just a humble guy,” said a friend. “He never started any problems. He never had issues. He was happy and social for someone who had just lost his grandfather and father.”

Polanco’s grandfather passed away in February and he lost his father in July, according to the friend.

On Tuesday, October 9, Senator Jose Peralta wrote a letter to the Police Commissioner on behalf of Polanco’s mother Cecilia Reyes. Peralta applauded Kelly’s push for a grand jury trial and added that full public disclosure of the facts is critical to ensure that justice is served.

Multiple attempts to reach Hamdy’s lawyer, Philip Karasyk, went unanswered as of press time.

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Overcast with a chance of rain. High of 63. Winds from the NE at 5 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%. Tuesday night: Overcast. Low of 55. Winds from the NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Meet the Candidates

St. John’s is holding a Meet the Candidates night from 7 p.m.to 9 p.m. at the Belson Moot Courtroom in the School of Law, where candidates for the New York State Legislature will take part in a public forum to discuss issues of importance to college students and the local community. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

 Grand jury probe likely in shooting

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly on Monday said a grand jury would have to decide whether criminal charges are warranted in the fatal shooting of an unarmed motorist in Queens last week by a detective. Read more: Wall Street Journal

Four teens killed in horrific car crash on Long Island; teen at wheel only had learner’s permit

They died on Dead Man’s Curve. Four Queens teenagers were killed Monday when their car — driven by a 17-year-old with only a learner’s permit — sped off a treacherous stretch of a Long Island highway and wrapped itself around a tree. Read more: New York Daily News

Churches battle liquor store next door

Two churches in Queens are now in the middle of a nasty battle because of what’s in the middle between them. Read more: ABC New York

Residents upset over calls that accuse State Senate candidate of supporting Muslim radicals

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U.S. meningitis cases mount from thousands of patients at risk

More cases of fungal meningitis tied to contaminated steroid shots are expected to be confirmed on Tuesday, U.S. health officials said, and some patients who received the injections may have to wait weeks to know if they are infected. Read more: Reuters

Sandusky to learn sentence in child sex abuse case

Jerry Sandusky will learn what penalty a judge considers appropriate for the 45 counts of child sexual abuse for which the former Penn State assistant football coach was convicted in June. Read more: AP

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Monday: Partly cloudy in the morning, then overcast. High of 59. Winds from the North at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the East in the afternoon. Chance of rain 20%. Monday night: Overcast with rain. Low of 54. Winds from the SE at 5 to 10 mph shifting to the NNE after midnight. Chance of rain 60% with rainfall amounts near 0.2 in. possible.

EVENT of the DAY:  Queens Restaurant Week 

The ninth annual Queens Restaurant Week starts today with many eateries offering prix-fixe menus at $25 for a three-course meal or other specials. More than 100 restaurants are participating in the event, which takes place October 8-11 and October 15-18. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Poll finds tight Queens state Senate race

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. and City Councilman Eric Ulrich are locked in a tight race for Addabbo’s Queens seat in a key battle for control of the Senate, a new poll finds. Read more: New York Post

New York City Housing Authority finally placing cameras at the Pomonok Houses in Queens, but mostly in areas where there is no crime

It seems like a no-brainer — put the cameras where the crime is. But that’s not what happened at the Pomonok Houses in Queens, a Daily News examination found. Read more: New York Daily News

Friends to have fundraiser for Army Guardsman in police shooting

The friends of the Army National Guardsman who was shot and killed by a detective during a traffic stop in Queens, will raise money to help his family pay for his funeral Sunday. Read more: Fox New York

Students turned away from SATs because of ID confusion

Taking the SAT is a rite of passage for many high schoolers but some Queens students were mistakenly turned away because of confusion over their IDs. Read more: NY1

MetroCards go on sale with ads on both sides

It sputtered out of the subway vending machine, an oddity that deserved careful examination. Some riders asked a station agent how to swipe it. One woman was confused about whether it was even a MetroCard at all. Read more: New York Times

Yankees win ALDS playoff opener over Orioles 7-2

CC Sabathia, Russell Martin and the New York Yankees crashed a party that was 15 years in the making. Read more: Wall Street Journal

Obama ribs his own debating; Romney eyes speech

On a last dash for cash in the celebrity scene of California, President Barack Obama on Sunday took a good-natured shot as his own underwhelming debate performance, marveling at how his friends in the entertainment business could turn in flawless showings every time. Read more: AP

 

 

Queens DA investigating police shooting of unarmed man on GCP


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

The shooting of an unarmed Army Reservist on the Grand Central Parkway early Thursday morning is being investigated by the Queens District Attorney after a witness said the victim never took his hands of the steering wheel.

Noel Polanco was pulled over by cops at 5:15 a.m. after speeding and swerving on the eastbound Grand Central Parkway and cutting off police vehicles. After being stopped, a pair of uniformed officers stepped out of their cars and flanked the 2012 Honda Fit.

Diane DeFerrari, who was sitting in the passenger seat, told the NY Post they were ordered to put their hands up, but before Polanco had a chance he was shot by Detective Hassan Hamdy.

“There was no time to put your hands up at all,” DeFerrar told the paper, adding Polanco had his hands on the steering wheel when he was shot. “They shot in front of my face. Had I moved an inch, it would probably have been me.”

After being taken to New York Hospital Queens by EMS, Polanco was pronounced dead at 5:58 a.m.

A third passenger, Vanessa Rodriguez, an NYPD officer on modified duty after a shoplifting charge, was also in the car’s backseat.

The three were on their way home from Ice Lounge in Astoria.

No weapon was found in the car, only a power drill under the driver’s side seat.

Those close to him said the Army Reservist never found himself in trouble.

“I never had to worry about him,” Polanco’s mother, Cecilia Reyes, told the Daily News. “He had never been in a precinct in his life. He was in the military and would never do anything to endanger his career. Daily news

The case is being investigated by Internal Affairs and the Queens DA.

Man dead in police shooting on GCP


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

A man was shot dead by police this morning on the Grand Central Parkway and two others are in custody.

The shooting occurred at 5 a.m. near exit 7 shutting down the highway during morning rush hour.

Police fired at the suspect, hitting him once in the abdomen, police said. According to the New York Times, the suspect was unarmed.  The 22 year old was taken to New York Hospital Queens where he was pronounced dead, according to reports.

The  Times report also indicates the car was pulled over after it twice cut off police vehicles.

NBC New York reported police mistakenly believed the man had a gun.

Two other men that were with the suspect in a black Honda have been taken into custody, reports said.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

Drunk driver hits and kills worker on Grand Central Parkway


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

According to police, at approximately 11 a.m. a vehicle travelling on the westbound side of the Grand Central Parkway hit and killed  63-year-old Frank Avino of Ronkonkoma, Long Island, who was working on the left lane of the roadway at Jewel Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver, 26-year-old Munshi Abdullah of Jamaica, Queens was taken into custody at the scene and arrested. He has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, DWI and resisting arrest, said police.

Avino, a contractor for Welsbach Electric Corp., was doing work for the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) at the time of the accident, said the DOT. Welsbach has a contract with the city to install and maintain streetlights in Queens, including on the Grand Central Parkway.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and to his loved ones. This incident reminds us of so many other tragedies on our streets caused by speeding and by drunk and reckless driving, and we will not let up in our efforts to fight each on every front,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

 

 

 

Family of Stephanie Taveras, shot to death on Grand Central Parkway, begs for answers


| jlane@queenscourier.com

The family of a beautiful young mom fatally shot on Mother’s Day on the Grand Central Parkway is pleading for the public’s help in finding her killer.

Stephanie Taveras, 21, was shot in the head after she left a house party in Glendale with the 29-year-old host in his BMW. The pair had just met for the first time on a nearby street corner earlier Saturday night.

[New York Post]