9mm Gold Dot +P Shooting
An NYPD officer yesterday shot and killed an unarmed Army reservist as he went to pick up a drill after they stopped his car.
Noel Polanco, 22, was fired at when he cut off the police car near New York's LaGuardia Airport, after they shouted at him to put his hands up, a witness said.
Passenger Diane DeFerrari insisted Mr Polanco never even took his hands off the wheel and the police had acted out of 'road rage.'
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Tragedy: Noel Polanco, 22, was shot dead by a police officer as he drove two passengers home from the bar where he works
Horrified: Passenger Diane DeFerrari, who worked at the Ice Lounge bar with Mr Polanco, said he was not given a chance to put his hands up before police shot him
Officers who had given terrifying chase in an unmarked vehicle screamed, 'Put up your hands!', and then shot Mr Polanco a split-second later, she said.
'It was simultaneous,' she added. 'There was a pop and Noel gasped.'
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After the shooting, Ms DeFerrari, 36, said she and a backseat passenger, an off-duty NYPD officer, were ordered out and told to put their hands on the car.
'The cop said, "Your friend just shot himself",' said Ms DeFerrari. 'I didn’t dispute what I saw because I was afraid. They wouldn’t let me look at him.'
The officer riding in Mr Polanco’s car, 29-year-old Vanessa Rodriguez, was waving her police ID out the window just before the shooting, sources said.
Second witness: An off-duty police officer and friend of Mr Polanco and Ms DeFerrari's was riding in the back of the Army reservist's car
Investigation begins: Veteran police officer Detective Hassam Hamdy had never shot his Glock pistol before while on duty
Detective Hassam Hamdy insisted he pulled the trigger after Mr Polanco, from Queens, reached down for something that turned out to be a yellow-and-black power drill, a source told the Daily News.
Ms DeFarrari is a bartender at the Ice Lounge in Astoria, where Polanco worked in the club’s hookah section
Det Hamdy, a veteran police officer who had never fired his Glock pistol before on duty, shot Mr Polanco in the midsection, sources said, and the 22-year-old died at 6am at New York Hospital Queens.
Mr Polanco’s devastated mother Cecilia Reyes, 46, said: 'I never had to worry about him.
'He had never been in a precinct in his life. He was in the military and would never do anything to endanger his career.
Ms Reyes, clerk at Elmhurst Hospital, sobbed as she described her son as funny and outgoing.
'They are going to pay for this,' she said. 'We want justice.'
Mrs Reyes was distraught, said family friend Tito Cordero, having also lost her husband in the past three months.
Shocking death: Police claimed the 22-year-old made a move to pick something up from by his feet
Disturbing allegations: Ms DeFerrari said the police ordered her and her fellow passenger out of the car and told her Mr Polanco had shot himself
Mr Cordero told DNA Info: '[Mr Polanco] doesn't fight. He doesn't drink. He doesn't smoke. He just works to get his mind off all the problems.'
Mr Polanco’s 15-year-old sister, Amanda Reyes, said: 'My brother’s dead, but I have faith that we’re going to get justice.'
With the shooting under investigation, Det Hamdy’s frantic wife defended her husband.
'It’s definitely scary for me, but I have faith in him,' said Christine Hamdy outside their Long Island home. 'I don’t know, what can I say? He’s good at what he does.'
Mr Polanco's police officer passenger Ms Rodriguez has a checkered history with the NYPD, according to court records. She was stripped of her gun and badge after being busted for stealing a sweater from an H&M store in June.
Ms DeFerrari had served Mr Polanco and Ms Rodriguez cognac before they all left the club where she worked at 5am, said NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.
The spokesman said Mr Polanco had offered to drive the two women home to save them the taxi fare because all three are from the same neighborhood.
Ms DeFerrari, a mother of three, denied Mr Polanco was reaching under his seat when he was shot, insisting, 'his hands were on the steering wheel' the whole time.
Conflicting stories: Police say Mr Polanco was speeding and weaving through traffic at 5am, and that they believed he was armed when he reached towards his feet, apparently to pick up a power drill
She said the trouble began after Mr Polanco tried to maneuver around slow-moving traffic.
'They tried to run us off the road,' said Ms DeFerrari, who said she was sober at the time but has been caught for drink driving before.
'They were shouting obscenities and the driver was sticking his middle finger out at us,' she said.
'Noel sped up to get away from the car. There were no sirens, just lights. I told Noel to stop the car, but we caught a clearing and took off.'
She said the unmarked car caught up and blocked their path. 'All hell broke loose,' said Ms DeFerrari. 'They jumped out with rifles drawn. One guy had a handgun. They ran at us.'
Police later showed her a photo of Det Hamdy, who she identified as the officer who shot her friend.
Police said Mr Polanco was heading east in his Honda Fit when his speeding vehicle was spotted by two unmarked Emergency Service Unit vans.
'The car was weaving in and out, going between the vehicles,' said police commissioner Raymond Kelly. 'They turned on their lights and tried to pull him over. He didn’t pull over.'
'Afraid': Mr Polanco never even took his hands off the wheel, said Ms DeFerrari, right
Devastating: Mr Polanco has drunk a cognac at the Ice Lounge in Queens, pictured, shortly before he was killed
One of the ESU vehicles pulled in front of Mr Polanco’s car and forced him to stop. Det Hamdy and another uniformed officer climbed out and approached the Honda from opposite sides of the vehicle.
'The bartender reports hearing police telling people to keep their hands up,' said Mr Browne. 'The last time she looked at the driver, [Mr Polanco’s] hands were still on the wheel.'
Ms DeFerrari told police she felt a mist on her face, which she realized was the driver’s blood.
The behaviour of the detective who fired has been questioned before. He and six other police officers were accused in 2007 of beating and terrorizing a Queens couple. The city settled their claim for $235,000.
In 2008, Det Hamdy and an officer were credited with convincing a Queens man to give up without a fight after he attacked a man with a machete and hurled Molotov cocktails at police.
At the Ice Lounge, investigators retrieved video footage, and Mr Polanco’s co-worker, Oscar Zuniga, mourned his friend.
'I never saw him drink, I never saw him drunk,' insisted Mr Zuniga, 26. 'He was a hard worker.
This shooting smells like a trigger-happy incident, though there is little hard info. I hope NYPD can get to the bottom of it. Fortunately there are two witnesses in the car, including an off-duty officer.
"Veteran police officer Detective `Hassam Hamdy` had never shot his Glock pistol before while on duty"
Good pic and video:
`Check again...I put one up...`
Witness credibility is everything here. It's a FUBAR situation for sure. The Huffington Post is hardly the bastion of objectivity. Far more info is needed here and the public will not have access to it at this point.
Let's not rush to judgement BEFORE facts are known.
Wild "card" is the backseat passenger. Unless she's brain dead, she knows she has only maintained her job due to political correctness as she is a confirmed thief.
I wouldn't be shocked if the events that the two witnesses in the car are depicting actally happened.
What a tragedy. I guess that the soldier didn't know about keeping his hands in view on the steering wheel. :(
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