Police Abuse

Family of Unarmed NYPD Shooting Victim Suing For Wrongful Death; Grand Jury Declined to Charge

Noel Polanco was shot during a traffic stop after a cop thought he was reaching for a gun


shot by cop
Polanco Family

While the Department of Justice is mulling whether to file federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin, an act for which Zimmerman's been acquitted, families of victims of police shootings often have to try to seek justice on their own.

This week, the family of Noel Polanco, an unarmed 22-year-old shot during a traffic stop in New York City last October, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Hassan Hamdy, the detective who fatally shot him, as well as the NYPD and the City of New York. The family is seeking $75,000 as judgment for the assault and battery involved in the shooting .

In February, a grand jury decided not to file charges against the officer who shot Polanco. The cop's excuse? He thought Polanco, a member of the National Guard Reserves, was reaching for a gun in his waistband. No gun was found anywhere in the car. He had been pulled over after police say they observed him driving erratically. One of the passengers in the car says Polanco kept his hands on the wheel through the entire encounter, while the other passenger, an off-duty cop, was asleep at the time.

Will the Department of Justice be investigating Hamdy or the NYPD? Don't hold your breath. But President Obama is considering police commissioner Ray Kelly, who did call for a grand jury probe of the shooting, for the top job at the Department of Homeland Security.

NEXT: 45 Years, 45 Days: A 1976 Introduction to Tax Revolt

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

    1. my classmate’s step-aunt makes $86/hour on the computer. She has been out of work for seven months but last month her pay check was $14546 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site…. http://WWW.CNN13.COM

      1. WTF is a “step-aunt”? Does that even count? I think the correct term is “My classmate’s uncle’s new wife”.

        Either way, DIAF.

        1. Or perhaps a step parent’s sister.

          Can spam bots die in fires?

  1. Trayvon and DHS have nothing to do with this case, and mentioning them just makes this post kind of confusing.

    1. They have everything to do with the hypocrisy.

        1. Kinda-sorta. But I’d say it’s the hypocrisy of Eric Holder, not the DoJ in general. His grandstanding and flame-stoking at the NAACP doesn’t confirm or deny that the DoJ is actually investigating this case.

          If Ed wants an answer to whether or not there is a double-standard, I suggest he contact the USDOJ Field Office in New York City or their Civil Rights Criminal Division directly and ask them.

          1. “I suggest he contact the USDOJ Field Office in New York City or their Civil Rights Criminal Division directly and ask them.”


  2. One of the passengers in the car says Polanco kept his hands on the wheel through the entire encounter

    But his hands were on the wheel furtively.

    1. Furtive gesture, totality of the circs, due process, no double standard


    2. They were at 9:30 and 2:15. Justified.

      1. Can’t tell if you made a cops are anal-retentive joke or a typography joke.

    3. Bigorati gonna bigorate.

      Procedures were followed, I’m involved in training, not experts, officer safety.


  3. A grand jury would indict a ham sandwich, but not a pig.

    1. But ham is made of pig!

      1. Some pigs are more equal than others.

      2. Yes, that means that the ham sandwich is either guilty of murder or recipt of corpses and defilement of the dead!

      3. Homer: What about bacon?

        Lisa: No.

        Homer: Ham?

        Lisa: No.

        Homer: Pork chops?

        Lisa: Daaad, those all come from the same animal!

        Homer: Heh heh heh, oh yeah, right Lisa, a wonderful, magical animal.

  4. Fuck you, plebe!

  5. The sleeping cop in the back seat was a woman. Dis she know the officer who killed the driver?

    1. You mean he might have been caught with the pig’s squeeze so the pig executed him?

      Nah, that could never happen in America! It’s the land of freedom and justice for all!

  6. IIRC, the cop said he was reaching in behind his seat and there was either a staple gun or a nail gun there.


    Solid, proactive police work; you can’t just wait around for the guy to shoot at you. That’s just crazy.

  8. Trayvon and DHS have nothing to do with this case, and mentioning them just makes this post kind of confusing.

    Trayvon’s light shines on all of us.

  9. I’m not trying to beat Ed up, but there’s so much missing from this story. First, the cop that shot him was in the back of a SWAT Truck on their way to a dynamic raid. The fact that they even participated in pulling the victim over is an absolute mystery. Second, they claim he was driving erratic, yet they have not produced a shred of evidence, even though there were dashcams in all the accompanying vehicles going to the raid, nor have they had any corroborating evidence from other drivers on the road. The fact that he was speeding has been corroborated by his passenger, but that’s because she claims to have pointed out the Police Truck to him as he was clipping along. And lastly, the shooter was given an extended period of time before he was required to make a statement and was granted access to his victim’s car prior to making that statement, allowing him to frame his narrative in a way not afforded a “civilian” in a similar situation.

    So very much wrong in this case…but that’s the NYPD for you. Shoot first, ask questions make statements later.

    1. Looks to me like a case of road rage. Dude cut off the police vans not once, but twice. So they killed him because they could.

      1. That’s exactly what the passenger said she thought happened. From the article I linked below:

        Mr. Polanco had just left Ice NYC, where he worked part time in the hookah lounge, filling and serving tobacco water pipes. Though he was not working, he had gone to the club to give a bartender, Diane Deferrari, and Ms. Deferrari’s friend, Vanessa Rodriguez, an off-duty police officer, a ride home. All three lived near one another in Corona, Queens.

        The two police trucks forced Mr. Polanco to stop after one truck went in front of his vehicle, a Honda, while the second one maneuvered behind it.

        After the car stopped, along a median of the busy highway, two officers approached the car, a sergeant at the driver’s side and the detective at the passenger side, where the window was open, the police said. Ms. Deferrari later told the police that she had heard the officers order those inside the car to show their hands. In an interview, she said that Mr. Polanco had no time to comply and that, in that instant Detective Hamdy fired the shot. Ms. Deferrari said she believed the shooting was the result of a case of police road rage.

    1. When dogs are aggressive and dangerous with no owner to be seen, shooting is the last resort. When the dog is curious and friendly with the owner right at hand, then shooting is the immediate reaction. I fucking hate cops.

      1. You know, I bet that most cops see that as a last resort. Problem is, they’ll still defend the assholes who shoot immediately.

        1. Depends on the situation.

          If the dog is a menace, then shooting it is the last resort.

          If some peasant is being uncooperative and the cop feels the need to establish dominance, then the dog’s going to get it.

  10. Portrait of Detective in Shooting: Hero, but Subject of Suits

    In 2001 and again in 2008, the city settled two federal civil-rights lawsuits ? one for $235,000; the other for $291,000 ? that named Detective Hamdy and several other officers as defendants in separate claims of police abuse.

    Looks like Detective Hamdy is going to cost New York taxpayers some more cash. Hey, when it hits a million do they fire him? HA HA HA, just kidding! The man’s a hero! A hero who just happens to keep getting tied up in some bad shit, through no fault of his own.

  11. Remember when those people were accused of committing a crime and they were given a vacation and nothing about the case was released by the police and the names of the alleged offenders was kept from the public? Well, now you do.

    Kinda reminds you of the exact opposite of the way they treat “civilians” accused of drug, DUI or any other number of crimes.

    1. OW!!!

      sloopy with the nut punch….again!

      1. Agreed.

        The wife wants me to get a vasectomy. But years at Reason, with Balko, sloopy, and the other police abuse posts have resulted in so many nutpunches that I’m likely sterile anyways.

  12. Hmmm. I guess Polanco wasnt one of Holder’s people.

  13. Hassan Hamdi? Workplace violence?

  14. So obvious that it barely needs to be said: Obama’s not fit to lick dog-shit off of the soles of Polanco’s boots. That goes double for Bloomberg.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.