An unarmed National Guardsman was shot and killed by a New York City police officer during an early morning traffic stop in Queens on Thursday.
NY1 reports that 22-year-old Noel Polanco, a member of the New York Army National Guard, was pulled over by NYPD officers on the Grand Central Parkway near LaGuardia Airport in Queens shortly after 5:00 a.m. on Thursday. Police say Polanco was driving erratically and had cut off two police vehicles.
Police claim that as two officers approached Polanco's Honda Fit, he reached under his seat. The New York Timesreports that 14-year NYPD veteran Detective Hassan Hamdy, 39, fired one shot that struck Polanco in the stomach. He was rushed to New York Hospital Queens, where he was pronounced dead.
No weapon was found in Polanco's car. A hand drill was found under the driver's seat.
There were two female passengers in Polanco's car when the incident occurred. One was an off-duty police officer friend who was sleeping in the back seat, the other was 36-year-old Dianne Deferrari, a bartender at the Ice Lounge club in Astoria, Queens. Polanco had gone to Ice Lounge to pick up Deferrari, who told police she served him drinks there.
Deferrari disputed the police claim that Polanco reached under his seat during the traffic stop. The bartender told police that the slain driver's hands had been on the steering wheel.
Amanda Reyes, Polanco's sister, told the Huffington Post that the tragedy of her brother's death has been compounded by the recent loss of her father to suicide.
"I already lost my father three months ago, and now my brother? There's nothing to say. I have nothing to say. I just feel hurt. There's only hurt."