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article imageFamily of soldier slain by NYC officer to sue city

By Shawn Kay     Feb 27, 2013 in Crime
The family of an unarmed soldier shot to death by the NYPD on a Queens highway last year has filed a legal motion to sue the NYPD and the city after a grand jury decided not to indict the officer on manslaughter charges.
The family of Noel Polanco, an unarmed National Guardsman killed by the New York City Police Department during a traffic stop on a highway in Queens this past October, has taken the first steps towards a civil lawsuit.
Sanford Rubenstein, the Polanco family attorney, filed a notice of claim against the NYPD and the City of New York after a grand jury decided not to indict detective Hassan Hamdy on manslaughter charges last week for the fatal shooting of the 22 year-old soldier.
The family intends to sue the NYPD, the city and Hamdy in a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit.
Polanco was on his way home to Corona from his job at the Ice Lounge in Astoria during the early morning hours on October 4, and had offered a ride to a colleague, bartender Diana D'Ferrari, and Vanessa Rodriguez, who was an off-duty NYPD officer.
According to the NYPD, as Polanco and his friends headed home on the Grand Central Parkway, he was pulled over for driving erratically and for cutting off what turned out to be an unmarked police van.
Officials say, detective Hamdy, a 12-year NYPD veteran and member of the Emergency Service Unit, approached the vehicle and asked Polanco to show his hands.
The detective discharged a single round through the vehicle’s passenger-side window which struck Polanco in the stomach. He was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Though officials are still unclear on why Hamdy fired the fatal shot, many suspect that the detective may have thought Polanco was reaching for a firearm under his seat. However, D'Ferrari, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, insists that the hands of her friend were in clear view and on the steering wheel "at all times."
No firearm was recovered from Polanco’s vehicle.
"There's no evidence whatsoever of a gun being in the car," Polanco family lawyer Sanford Rubenstein told NY1. "We look forward to deposing this detective during the civil proceedings under oath with regard to what happened in this tragedy."
In addition to the wrongful death claim, the family plans to sue the city for negligent hiring of Hamdy, who the claim says pulled over Polanco at gun point, "illegally and without a proper warrant or cause, and for no apparent reason."
The family is also asking the U.S. Department of Justice to look into the case, NY1 reported.
"Now that the state system of criminal justice has been exhausted, it's appropriate, if the federal government were to be involved, for them to open up an investigation," Rubenstein said. "And that's what we are asking for. We're asking for the feds to open a criminal investigation with regard to the issue of federal civil rights violations."
Polanco's mother Cecilia Reyes told the network that is was still hard to accept the decision not to indict Hamdy, and that she hopes he receives some other punishment, according to NY1.
"I want him without a job," Reyes told the network. "I'm calling on the commissioner. I want this cop out of the street. I don't want to see him hurt anyone else."
Though Hamdy was not indicted on the criminal charge of manslaughter, officials say the Detective could still face departmental charges pending an NYPD internal review of the shooting incident.
The New York State Army National Guard posthumously promoted Polanco to the rank of sergeant after his death.
More about noel polanco, Hassan Hamdy, new york city police department, Queens, NYC
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