Grand Jury Will Investigate NYPD Shooting of Unarmed Guardsman, Kelly Says

By Julie Shapiro on October 8, 2012 1:36pm | Updated on October 8, 2012 6:13pm

 A memorial for Noel Polanco, the 22-year-old unarmed man who was shot to death by an NYPD detective on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens.
A memorial for Noel Polanco, the 22-year-old unarmed man who was shot to death by an NYPD detective on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens.
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DNAinfo/Fred Dreier

MIDTOWN — The NYPD detective who shot and killed an unarmed Army National Guardsman on Grand Central Parkway last week will face a grand jury investigation, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Monday.

Kelly called for a full investigation into the death of Noel Polanco, 22, who was shot by a nine-year NYPD veteran during a traffic stop in Queens early last Thursday morning.

"It will require what I believe to be a grand jury investigation to determine precisely what happened there," Kelly told reporters at the Columbus Day parade. "The investigation is going forward, but it appears to me that the grand jury will have to be involved in this investigation."

"We have one witness. Of course we've spoken to the witness. We have not spoken to the shooting officer. That is our normal protocol," Kelly added. "The reason we don't do that is because there's potential of giving immunity to the shooter in cases like that."

Det. Hassan Hamdy, 39, with the NYPD's elite Emergency Services Unit, fired the single shot that killed Polanco after stopping him for driving erratically, police said.  There are conflicting accounts about whether Polanco put his hands up, as he was ordered to do, before Hamdy shot him.

No weapon was found in Polanco's car, but police did discover a yellow power drill.

Hamdy had been hailed as a hero for rescuing civilians from a fire earlier this year, but he was also the subject of two lawsuits accusing him of civil rights violations and police brutality.

Polanco's mother, Cecilia Reyes, 46, who was making funeral arrangements late Monday afternoon, described the shooting as a cruel twist: Reyes himself aspired to become a police officer.

The bereaved mother said she was closely watching the criminal investigation.

"I want justice," Reyes said. "This can't stay like this."

The office of the family's lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said on Monday that a grand jury has not yet been enlisted.

Rubenstein would not speculate on whether the family would be suing the city.

"Right now, the concern of the family is the criminal investigation that is underway," Rubenstein said, "and planning the funeral."

 

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