HARLEM — It has been five months since her son, 22-year-old Noel Polanco, was killed in an unorthodox traffic stop in Queens, but Cecilia Reyes still struggled through tears Saturday to speak about the ordeal.
"I'm very, very angry at the justice system. I believe they overlooked what they should've looked…" she started, before breaking into breathy sobs at a podium in the National Action Network in Central Harlem.
Two days after a grand jury declined to indict Hassan Hamdy, the NYPD officer who fired the deadly shot that killed Polanco on Oct. 4, 2012, Reyes gasped for breath and apologized for bursting into tears repeatedly while trying to speak to the dozens gathered at the Rev. Al Sharpton's headquarters.
"They didn't do the justice they needed to do for my son. But I'm not giving up. I'm continuing on, and I'm going to fight with every being in my life that I'm going to get this done," she gasped.
"I'm angry. I just...I want justice and I'm going to get justice. Either way I'm going to get the justice. This has got to go through… I'm sorry," said Reyes, falling against relatives who stood at her side.
Hamdy, who had a controversial past, shot Polanco after pulling the young National Guardsman who had aspired join the NYPD over on the Grand Central Parkway last fall. Sources said that Hamdy believed Polanco was reaching for a gun when he opened fire. The grand jury decided not to indict Hamdy on Thursday.
The family's lawyer, Sanford Rubenstein, said Friday that he would seek civil action and push for the U.S. Attorney's office to intervene. An attorney at Saturday's rally said the lawyers would also be petitioning for an independent review of the death, arguing that the Queens District Attorney's office could not conduct a fair investigation since it compromised by its working relationship with the NYPD.
Reyes spoke out against Hamdy's actions and criticized him for the first time since the immediate aftermath of the incident.
"My son had no weapon ... and yet, the officer gets away with this. If it was to be someone else in the street, right away they would prosecute this kid. But what about the justice? What about my son? This officer was still a murderer no matter what. He still killed my son," she said.
"He needs his justice and I'm not going to give up because this cannot continue to go on to any other people... to anyone else," she said, before breaking into tears again, then apologizing for her grief.
"It isn't right," she croaked amid tears. "The same rules should apply for them — for the officers — too. A murder is a murder no matter what."