NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Members of the Army National Guard lined a street in Queens on Friday to honor a fellow guardsman who was shot and killed by an NYPD detective during a traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway last week.
Friends and family filled the Eternal Love Baptist Church in Corona for the funeral of Noel Polanco as members of his auto club carried the casket covered by an American flag.
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The 22-year-old was given full military honors and was posthumously promoted to sergeant. Lieutenant Col. James Freehart read the proclamation at the funeral to the nearly 300 mourners.
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The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy.
“The Army made you a sergeant,” Sharpton said during the eulogy. “God’s going to give you your wings.”
Polanco was killed on Oct. 4 when he was shot by Det. Hassan Hamdy near LaGuardia Airport. Police said Polanco had been pulled over for driving erratically and for cutting off an unmarked Emergency Services Unit vehicle.
Hamdy’s lawyer has said that Polanco did not comply with the detective’s orders to put up his hands. The lawyer said Polanco reached for something under his seat.
He said his client “felt threatened and was left with no other alternative other than the actions that he took.”
But a passenger in Polanco’s car has disputed that account. No weapon was found.
“This should never have happened and those who are guilty must pay. The time for excuses is over,” Sharpton said.
Polanco’s mother, Cecilia Reyes, met with Queens District Attorney Richard Brown on Thursday.
“All I want is justice. I don’t want this to be repeated,” Reyes said after her meeting with Brown. “I just want this to be done the
Brown said he expects to the case will go to a grand jury.
Reyes said her son had recently started to fill out paperwork to go into active duty. She said he eventually wanted to become a police officer.
At the funeral service, there was no mention of his death as loved ones instead celebrated his life.
“There’s more questions than there are answers,” said friend Luis Rosaro. “At the same time, people are trying to forget what happened and remember the good things. It’s hard.”
“I’m going to miss him with all my heart,” Reyes said. “He was a good person.”
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