By Chris Engelhardt
Corona resident Cecilia Reyes, whose 22-year-old son Noel Polanco was fatally shot by an NYPD detective during a traffic stop last year, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against New York City and the officer who gunned down the National Guardsman, according to court documents.
A member of the NYPD Emergency Service Unit Apprehension Team, Hassan Hamdy was one of several officers in two unmarked vans driving in the center lane eastbound on the Grand Central Parkway Oct. 4 at 5:15 a.m. when Polanco was seen in his black 2012 Honda Fit Hybrid near Exit 7 in East Elmhurst, the NYPD said.
Officers said they saw Polanco driving erratically in the right lane, cutting between the vans, tailgating another vehicle in the left lane, then cutting back in-between the vans to the right lane, police said.
Philip Karasyk, the attorney for Hamdy, said that after Polanco was pulled over, Hamdy saw Polanco reaching for something and shot him in the stomach, believing it to be a weapon.
One of the two passengers in the car, Diane DeFerrari, said Polanco kept his hands on the steering wheel. The other passenger, off-duty Officer Vanessa Rodriguez, was sleeping at the time.
Polanco died shortly after being shot at New York Hospital Queens in Flushing.
A member of the National Guard Reserves, he worked at the Paragon Honda in Woodside and made hookahs.
No weapon was found in the car, District Attorney Richard Brown said. In February, a Queens grand jury decided against formally charging Hamdy.
The wrongful death lawsuit filed in Brooklyn federal court Tuesday seeks damages in excess of $75,000 as a judgment for assault and battery in the shooting of Polanco.
Sanford Rubenstein, lawyer for the Polanco family, said in a statement the family believes they did not get justice on the criminal side of the justice system, and are moving forward with the federal lawsuit.
“This civil lawsuit against Detective Hassan Hamdy and his employer, the New York City Police Department and the City of New York, is to hold them civilly accountable for the wrongful death of Noel Polanco,” Rubenstein said.
Reach reporter Chris Engelhardt by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.