HARLEM — An array of family members and elected officials gathered Saturday to demand justice for the National Guardsman who was shot to death by an NYPD detective Thursday in an unusual Queens traffic stop.
Leading the call for action, Rev. Al Sharpton — joined by the family of the victim, Noel Polanco, and their lawyers — said the case and blame appeared to be very cut-and-dry.
"We see no reason not to prosecute," said Sharpton. "We're calling for an immediate and full investigation."
"My son was a great kid and I'm sure no other parent wants to see their child taken away by people who don't deserve to be in that type of uniform," she said.
"What are they teaching them? They need to go back and get some more training," she added.
Commissioner Raymond Kelly visited Reyes' home Friday night, Sharpton said, but the reverend would not expand upon what was discussed. But Reyes decried what she said were efforts to disparage her son's image.
"I want justice. I want no cover-ups. I want answers... I don't want anyone else to have to go through this," she said. "My son was a great kid, never got himself in trouble with the law. All he wanted to do was serve in the U.S. Army," she said.
"Now they just want to discredit my son. He was not the person they're making him out to be. And I'm not going to give up until I get justice."
The family's lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said they would push for a prosecution.
"This family wants justice, and what that means, [is] if a criminal act was committed by police, it must be prosecuted," he said.
Polanco was shot early Thursday after an ESU police unit, out working on a different investigation, pulled him over on the Grand Central Parkway after he was seen driving his Honda Fit erratically at high speeds, sources said.
A female passenger who witnessed the stop said Polanco still had his hands on the steering wheel when Detective Hassan Hamdy shot him to death at 5:15 a.m., according to reports, and that Hamdy simultaneously shot him as police were demanding he put his hands in the air.
The NYPD initially said Polanco had been reaching under his car seat, but then later rescinded the statement.
Public officials, including Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez all expressed their support at the morning press conference held at the National Action Network's headquarters on West 145th Street and Lenox Avenue.
“None of what we have learned in the past two days has justified the tragic death of Noel Polanco," said de Blasio. "The Queens District Attorney is right to investigate. Nothing less than the full truth is acceptable.”
Joining the officials and relatives at the rally were family members of other victims of cop-involved shootings, including Franclot Graham, the father of Ramarley Graham, an unarmed 18-year-old who was chased down by cops Feb. 2 who had thought the teen was carrying a weapon, and broke down his apartment door before fatally shooting him in the chest in his bathroom.
Laverne Dobbison, whose son Tamon Robinson, was struck and killed by undercover cops that had pursued the unarmed man suspected of stealing paving stones while he was on foot from their police car, said she was there to help.
"I just came here to support the family," said Dobbinson, who lives in Brooklyn. "It brought back memories of my son being killed by police. I feel really sad for the family."
"They deserve justice as well as my son," she added.
Last week, Dobbinson received a letter written to her son from a collection agency, attempting to claim he owed the city $710 for damages done to the police cruiser in Robinson's death, the Daily News reported. A spokeswoman for the New York City Law Department later issued an apology, according to ABC News.
"I think it's a shame they want to charge me for damages on the car that killed my son. I don't know what's wrong with the justice system," said Dobbinson. "It's not right."