NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Family, friends and authorities are still trying to determine why an NYPD detective fatally shot and killed an unarmed driver on the Grand Central Parkway on Thursday.
It continued to be the big question Friday as the Queens District Attorney Richard Brown opened a criminal investigation into the killing of 22-year-old Army reservist Noel Polanco. He died from a bullet fired by 39-year-old detective Hassan Hamdy, who also has military ties with a stint in the Marines.
Hamdy said nothing when CBS 2 cameras spotted him outside his Long Island home. The DA’s office is working with the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Division to investigate the incident, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
Police Commissioner Kelly met with Polanco’s mother Friday night at her Queens residence to express his condolences.
Hamdy’s 14 years with the NYPD have been marked by moments of bravery. In May, Hamdy went into a burning apartment to search for victims.
Four years ago, he helped negotiate the surrender of a man who attacked a neighbor with a machete and threw firebombs at police, but Hamdy has also been accused of misconduct.
He was one of 16 cops in a 1999 excessive force case, which was settled for almost $300,000. Hamdy is also one of six cops who was sued in 2007 by Dorothy Garcia and her grandson, Tyrell.
“I know that they were very aggressive,” Garcia told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
The Garcias claimed police abused Tyrell Garcia, including kicking, punching and hitting him with their guns, during an arrest on a minor violation.
According to the 2007 lawsuit, Hamdy was part of group of cops who grabbed Garcia and dragged his body across a chain link fence.
Attorney Fred Lichtmacher said the city paid $235,000 to settle that case.
The lawyer said he was not surprised to learn Hamdy was involved in the Grand Central Parkway shooting.
“Why wouldn’t an officer involved in a case earlier be involved in another incident? The NYPD doesn’t do anything. They don’t discipline their officers for most things they do,” Lichtmacher told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
The Police Department strongly disputed such a notion and promised a full investigation into what Hamdy did in the moments leading up to the fatal shooting.
Sources told CBS 2 the team of officers that pulled over Polanco was made up of a total of nine members of the NYPD force. They’d just come from executing a warrant for narcotics in the south Bronx.
Meanwhile, Polanco‘s mother said she wants justice for her son, who police said was pulled over for driving erratically on the Grand Central Parkway.
WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reports
Polanco’s mother, Cecilia Reyes, said her son had no criminal record and didn’t deserve to be shot by a cop.
“How are you just going to shoot a person without asking for a license or a registration? No — this is not staying like this. I want justice for my son,” she said.
Reyes said her son, who was an Army National Guardsman, had recently started to fill out paperwork to go into active duty. She said he eventually wanted to become a police officer.
“That what he wanted, that’s why he wanted to go away so that this way he could come back and have a rank in command,” she told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria. “He was always saying he wanted to go active because he wanted to become a cop.”
Diana DeFerrari was a passenger in Polanco’s front seat.
“The police proceeded to try to chase us, sticking their middle finger at us and screaming obscenities at the car and trying to pull us over and trying to veer us into divider on left lane of Grand Central Parkway,” she said.
1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports
DeFerrari is a bartender at the club. She said Polanco had been drinking and admitted he was driving unsafely. But she said alcohol wasn’t a factor.
“He did cut them off, he did. But again, that is not a reason to shoot somebody,” she said. “You give them a traffic ticket, you take them to jail, whatever. You don’t kill him.”
DeFerrari said Polanco kept his hands on the steering wheel and never reached for anything or made a suspicious move.
“I heard the pop, the pop at the same time they yelled ‘put your hands up,'” she said. “You had no time to put your hands up.”
But the head of the Detective Endowment Association, Mike Palladino, said DeFerrari’s story is far from fact.
“I wouldn’t put much faith in the bartender’s version of events. I think her version is absurd. No police officer would shoot a person whose both hands are on a steering wheel,” Palladino said.
Palladino said the cops had no choice but to pull Polanco’s car over.
“He was putting other people in serious danger and most importantly, not complying with commands to pull over despite lights and sirens and they were in full police uniform,” he said.
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