Tag Archives: Noel Polanco

NYPD detective who fatally shot National Guardsman charged: reports


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

The NYPD detective who fatally shot a National Guardsman on the Grand Central Parkway was charged in connection with the death, according to published reports.

Detective Hassan Hamdy received a departmental charge Thursday of “failing to employ proper tactics causing a civilian’s death,” when he shot 22-year-old Noel Polanco during a traffic stop in October 2012, reports said.

Sergeant Thomas Glaudino, who was responsible for Hamdy’s unit that day, was also charged with failing to supervise his team to prevent the alleged tactical mistakes, reports also said.

Polanco was pulled over when he was seen driving erratically in his car, weaving between lanes and speeding on the highway 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.

In February of 2013, a Queens grand jury concluded that there would be no criminal charges filed in connection to the death of Polanco.

Two months ago, Polanco’s family reached a $2.5 million settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

 

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Family of slain National Guardsman reaches $2.5 million settlement in suit against city


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Facebook

The family of slain National Guardsman Noel Polanco has reached a $2.5 million settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit against the city.

“While the family of Noel Polanco does not believe justice was done on the criminal side of our legal system certainly there was a measure of justice from the civil side of our legal system with the settlement of damages for wrongful death,” Sanford Rubenstein, the lawyer for Polanco’s family said.

The 22-year-old Army Reserve member was fatally shot by NYPD police officer Hassan Hamdy during a traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway in October 2012.

Polanco was pulled over when he was seen driving erratically in his car, weaving between lanes and speeding on the highway 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.

Last February, a Queens grand jury concluded that there would be no criminal charges filed in connection to the death of Polanco. By the end of the month, Polanco’s mother, Cecilia Reyes, announced a $20 million notice of claim to file a lawsuit against the city, NYPD and the officer who shot her son.

 

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Family of slain National Guardsman to file suit against city, NYPD


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Cecilia Reyes announced a $20 million notice of claim to file a lawsuit against the city, the NYPD and the officer who fatally shot her son, Noel Polanco.

On February 14, a Queens grand jury determined no criminal charges would be filed against Hassan Hamdy, the NYPD officer who shot the 22-year-old National Guardsman in October during a traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway.

“I want him without a job,” Reyes told NY1. “I’m calling on the commissioner. I want this cop off the street. I don’t want to see him hurt anyone else.”

“The family feels they did not get justice in the state system of criminal justice,” said Sanford Rubenstein, the lawyer for Polanco’s family.

Along with the lawsuit, the family has requested that the U.S. Attorney’s office begin a criminal investigation based on federal civil rights violations.

“She [Reyes] wants this police officer to be held accountable and she doesn’t want another family to go through what her family is going through,” said Rubenstein.

 

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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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Top headlines around the web


| mchan@queenscourier.com

afternooonroundup

Aqueduct racino and tax coffers in the chips

This is one gamble that paid off.

The Aqueduct Resorts World “racino” in Queens is celebrating its one-year anniversary — amid positive reviews from state officials and community leaders that the facility has boosted jobs and swelled Albany’s coffers in a fragile economy. Read more: New York Post

More express buses flying to La Guardia

If only they checked bags.

The city announced yesterday that it’s adding Select Bus Service routes to and from La Guardia Airport — complete with dedicated transit lanes — that will shave 10 to 40 minutes off trips. Read more: New York Post

Noel Polanco, the unarmed Queens National Guardsman killed by a cop, promoted to sergeant at his funeral

In life, he held the rank of specialist in the National Guard. In death, he is a sergeant.

Noel Polanco, the unarmed Queens man killed last week by a cop, was posthumously promoted Friday at his funeral.

“This is a promotion for outstanding accomplishments and service,” First Sgt. Gregory Sinclair said as the hundreds of mourners jammed inside the Eternal Love Baptist Church in Corona, Queens rose and applauded. Read more: Daily News

EXCLUSIVE: Strawberry’s to shutter suddenly Sunday

A New York baseball legend’s sports bar will shutter Sunday after poor management ran the popular Douglaston dive to the ground, the Courier has learned.

Strawberry’s Sports Grill – the brainchild of the Mets’ and Yankees’ four-time World Series champ, Darryl Strawberry – had only been open for two years before the prominent restaurant struck out, having to suddenly shut its doors for good this weekend. News of the closure came out of left field to employers and upper management, sources said. Read more: Queens Courier

Unarmed national guardsman killed by police is laid to rest


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

“We just want justice,” whispered a cousin of Noel Polanco’s during his funeral service. “That’s it. Justice.”

Hundreds of friends and family members filled the Eternal Love Baptist Church in Corona on Friday morning to bid a final goodbye to Noel Polanco, the 22-year-old national guardsman, killed by a police officer during a traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway on October 4.

Melvin Morgan, who works with the victim’s mother at Elmhurst Hospital, stood outside the church before the service holding a sign that read “Stop police brutality now.” Morgan lamented the upswing in police involved shootings in the city where innocent lives were lost.

“Every week, there’s a police involved shooting,” said Morgan. “It needs to stop. We’re tired of it – [Polanco] was a very nice gentleman. He was very humble, very honest and everyone in the neighborhood loved him.”

Escorted by eulogist Reverend Al Sharpton, Polanco’s mother, Cecilia Reyes, clutched the civil rights figure as they led the funeral procession into the church.

Throughout the service, friends recalled moments spent with Polanco, fixing up cars and sketching tattoo designs. Polanco belonged to the “Center of Attention” car club and worked four jobs to pay for a new Honda Fit Hybrid. When friends called Polanco, needing a ride at 4 a.m., he came through, never asking for anything in return.

Army officers spoke of Polanco’s dedication and eagerness to assist others – particularly families’ whose homes were damaged during Hurricane Irene.

“He was a proactive young man, easy for a smile, respectful, ready to work and always willing to do what was asked of him,” said Lieutenant Colonel James Freehart, Polanco’s battalion commander.

During the service, Polanco was posthumously promoted from specialist to sergeant.

Sharpton delivered the eulogy, emphasizing the need for resolution and fairness as investigation into the case progresses.

“As we celebrate the homecoming of Noel, it is time for the city to deal with the issue of justice,” said Sharpton. “You’ve taken her baby. Can you at least give her some justice?”

Just a day after meeting with the Queens district attorney, Reyes spoke of her son’s kind heart and strong spirit.

“I will always miss him and I’m never going to see him again,” said Reyes. “But, I know we will be together again.”

Queens Morning Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

TODAY’S FORECAST

Friday: A slight chance of showers between noon and 2pm. Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 62. Breezy, with a northwest wind 10 to 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. Friday night: Clear, with a low around 41. North wind 9 to 17 mph.

Biden and Ryan quarrel aggressively in debate, offering contrasts

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Representative Paul D. Ryan fiercely quarreled at the vice-presidential debate here on Thursday night, with Mr. Biden using the cutting attack lines against the Republican ticket that Mr. Obama did not and Mr. Ryan delivering a spirited case for conservative policies that Mr. Romney had soft-pedaled. Read more: NY Times

Yankees fall in closeout game, allow Baltimore Orioles to force ALDS Game 5 on J.J. Hardy’s game-winning RBI double in the 13th inning

This time Raul IObanez didn’t help. Pinch-hitting for A-Rod didn’t help. The Yankees are running out of alternatives and answers as their Game 5 fate beckons. As the Bombers failed to conjure the previous game’s magic, the Orioles extended this best-of-five American League division series to a decisive game with a 13-inning, 2-1 victory over the Yankees Thursday night at the Stadium. Read more: Daily News

Melinda Katz kicks off campaign for borough president

Noting that it was crucial to determine what the common needs of a diverse borough like Queens were, Melinda Katz, former member of the City Council and Assembly, embarked Wednesday, October 10 on a year-long run for the borough president’s office — after incumbent Helen Marshall steps down at the end of 2013 due to term limits. Read more: Queens Courier

ESU police attempted To save Queens man shot by their fellow officer

On video taken shortly after Noel Polanco was shot by an Emergency Service Unit officer on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens, the 22-year-old is seen being brought out of a unmarked ESU truck on a stretcher. Polanco, 22, was fatally shot by ESU Detective Hassan Hamdy following an early morning traffic stop near LaGuardia Airport last Thursday. Read more: NY1

MTA announces three new fast-track bus routes to LaGuardia Airport

The city and MTA are creating three souped-up bus routes to LaGuardia Airport, including one from Manhattan and one from the Bronx. With the new routes, Select Bus Service — which includes trip-speeding tactics like curbside payment — will be in every borough next year, officials said. Read more: Daily News

iPhone thief prowls Queens

An iPhone thief is wreaking havoc in Queens, police said. The robber is responsible for stealing eight of the smartphones between Aug. 1 and Sept. 20 in neighborhoods such as Astoria and Hunters Point. Read more: NY Post

Long Island City strip club hopes third time is the charm for liquor license

The owners of a controversial Long Island City strip club who have twice been denied a liquor license are hoping the third time’s the charm. Lawyers for 21 Group Inc., which currently operates Show Palace, have asked the New York State Liquor Authority to reconsider their most recent application. Read more: Daily News

Meeks pal cops plea

A Queens businessman who had been pressed by prosecutors to dish dirt on his friend, embattled Rep. Gregory Meeks, pleaded guilty yesterday to a $50 million mortgage-fraud scheme. Edul Ahmad — whose $40,000 “loan” to Meeks in 2007 remains the subject of a House Ethics Committee probe — faces up to 30 years in prison when he’s sentenced for the mortgage scam that enabled unqualified home buyers to get loans. Read more: NY Post

Mother of unarmed man killed by NYPD meets with Queens DA


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via NY1

A day before burying her son killed by police during a traffic stop, Cecilia Reyes met today with the Queens district attorney.

Noel Polanco’s mother, along with her lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, met with DA Richard Brown for about a half hour today, according to reports, and was told the case will likely be heading to a grand jury.

“The district attorney this morning committed to a independent investigation,” Rubenstein said to reporters on the scene outside the Queens County Courthouse.

Reyes said she just wants the investigation handled correctly.

“All I want is justice,” she said. “I don’t want this to be repeated.”

Brown released a statement saying the “decisions in this case will be based solely on the facts and the law.”

Earlier this week Police Commissioner Ray Kelly also said he expected a grand jury investigation.

Polanco was fatally shot on the Grand Central Parkway last week after being pulled over for erratic driving. Reports said Polanco was shot after reaching below his seat. Diane DeFerrari, a passenger in the car, said his hands never left the wheel. No weapon was found in the car.

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 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.