Won’t Indict Det. For Pkwy. Shooting
Grand Jury Clears Him For Fatal Incident
Members of a grand jury declined to press criminal charges against an NYPD detective who shot and killed a Corona man during a traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway in East Elmhurst last October, but the legal troubles for the officer may not be over.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced last Thursday, Feb. 14, that a grand jury opted not to indict Det. Hassan Hamdy for the death of Noel Polanco, 22, of Lefrak City in the shooting that took place early on the morning of Oct. 4, 2012, on the parkway near LaGuardia Airport.
“While I understand that some would want me to provide the factual and legal basis for the grand jury’s decision, I am precluded from doing so by the statutory provisions regarding grand jury secrecy,” Brown said in a statement last Thursday. “Suffice it to say, however, that this office conducted a thorough, complete and independent investigation into all of the facts and circumstances surrounding Mr. Polanco’s death. 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.”
“Mr. Polanco’s death remains a tragedy, and I again express my sympathy to his family for their loss,” the district attorney added.
Nonetheless, Polanco’s mother, Cecilia Reyes, was quoted in published reports after last Thursday’s announcement that the family is considering other legal options, including a civil case against Hamdy.
The detective, along with members of the NYPD Emergency Services Unit Apprehension Team in two unmarked vans, stopped a black 2012 Honda operated by Polanco traveling erratically eastbound on the Grand Central Parkway at around 5:15 a.m. on Oct. 4, 2012, as previously reported in the Times Newsweekly. Two females were in the vehicle with Polanco, who was traveling home from working at a bar in Astoria.
After stopping Polanco’s vehicle, police said, Hamdy and a sergeant— both of whom were wearing official uniforms—exited from their vehicles and approached the driver’s side window. The detective reportedly told Polanco to put his hands in the air.
However, authorities said, Polanco reached under the front seat. Hamdy—believing that the driver was reaching for a weapon—then fired a shot which struck Polanco in the chest, authorities noted.
EMS units responded to the scene thereafter and rushed Polanco to New York Hospital Queens, where he died later that morning. No weapons were reportedly recovered from the Honda during a subsequent search by police.
According to Brown, the grand jury convened in the case on nine separate occasions over a five-week period.
Throughout the probe, he noted, the Queens District Attorney’s office had the cooperation of the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau, the Forensic Investigation Bureau, the Crime Scene Unit and other bureaus within the department.