Recently, a Queens grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against a New York Police Department detective who fatally shot and killed an unarmed motorist following a high speed chase that occurred last year.
The victim, Noel Polanco who was a 22 year old National Guardsman was shot along a stretch of the Grand Central Parkway near LaGuardia Airport on October 4, 2012 by Detective Hassan Hamdy. The circumstances surrounding the incident are in dispute. The attorney for the detective claimed that his client who is a 14-year veteran of the police department, fired a single shot at the victim because he was reaching for a weapon underneath the front seat of his vehicle. However, a search of the vehicle following the incident revealed only that there was a small mechanic’s drill underneath the seat.
Police officials claimed that they had attempted to pull over Mr. Polanco after observing him driving recklessly on the highway and cutting off vehicles in an attempt to evade the police. The officers had to force Mr. Polanco to stop his vehicle in the left lane of the parkway. However, Diane Deferrari who was a passenger in Mr. Polanco’s vehicle claimed that Mr. Polanco kept his hands on the steering wheel the entire time that he was pulled over and near attempted to reach under his seat. A second passenger, a female New York City police officer who was a friend of Ms. Deferrari was asleep in the back seat and awoke upon hearing the sound of the bullet being fired.
The attorney representing the victim’s family stated that they were extremely disappointed with the grand jury’s action and would commence a civil suit against the officer and police department based upon the reckless and dangerous actions taken by Detective Hamdy and the police department in this matter.
In what is considered an unusual move for a criminal investigation, Detective Hamdy waived his immunity and testified before the grand jury. However, despite his testimony it would appear that the detective’s actions were at the very least negligent if not reckless under the circumstances. The family will have an opportunity to hear Detective Hamdy’s testimony surrounding this incident and his alleged justification for the action he took in the civil matter.