NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A grand jury in Queens has voted not to indict a police officer on criminal charges in the fatal shooting of an unarmed National Guardsman during a traffic stop.
Police said Polanco had been pulled over for driving erratically and cutting off an unmarked Emergency Services Unit vehicle.
Hamdy’s lawyer Philip Karasyk said Polanco did not comply with the detective’s orders to put up his hands and instead reached for something under his seat with both hands.
He said his client “felt threatened and was left with no other alternative other than the actions that he took.”
“All together formed in Det. Hamdy’s mind the belief that he was about to get shot,” Karasyk told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman.
Hamdy fired one round, striking Polanco in the stomach and killing him.
“No police officer ever wants to be faced with such a life-or-death, split-second decision,” Karasyk told Silverman. “He has expressed his condolences to the family on several occasions.”
A passenger in Polanco’s car said he had his hands on the steering wheel the whole time. No weapon was found in Polanco’s car.
The Polanco family‘s lawyer Sanford Rubenstein says they are extremely disappointed by the grand jury’s decision. He says the family will meet in the near future with their advisers to determine the best way to move forward “in their quest for justice.”
“The mother is extremely emotionally upset,” Rubenstein told Silverman.
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the grand jury reached its conclusion after meeting on nine separate occasions over a five week period.
“Mr. Polanco’s death remains a tragedy and I again express my sympathy to his family for their loss,” Brown said in a statement.
“This office conducted a thorough, complete and independent investigation into all of the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr. Polanco’s death,” Brown said. “We interviewed all witnesses to that which occurred and examined all available documentary evidence. We thereafter presented all the evidence to the grand jury and instructed it as to the applicable procedural and substantive law.”
“I was always cautiously optimistic that there would be no indictment in this case,” Mike Palladino, head of the Detective Endowment Association said in a statement. “Twenty-three grand jurors thoroughly examined the evidence and testimony and concluded that there was no criminality. I am sure they took into consideration that Polanco was intoxicated and contributed to what happened. Det. Hassan was always confident that the jurors would rule in his favor.”
Hamdy could still face departmental charges following an internal review.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)