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Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement Friday his office and the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Division would be looking into a police detective’s shooting of an unarmed Corona man who was pulled over on the Grand Central Parkway for a traffic stop.
“The public can be assured that the investigation will be full, fair and complete,” Brown said. “Until the investigation is concluded, my office will refrain from making any comment.”
Members of the Emergency Service Unit Apprehension Team were driving eastbound in two unmarked vans on the center lane of the parkway near Exit 7 to LaGuardia Airport at 5:15 a.m. last Thursday when they spotted a black 2012 Honda Fit Hybrid driving erratically in the right line, according to police.
The car cut between the two ESU vehicles into the left lane and then began to tailgate a car, before crossing back in between the ESU vans again to the right lane, the NYPD said.
The ESU vehicles then positioned themselves in front and back of the Honda, forcing it to pull over, police said. After the car stopped, a uniformed sergeant and detective both got out of the front van and approached the car, which was occupied by a male driver and two female passengers, according to the NYPD.
The driver, 23-year-old Corona resident Noel Polanco, had been told to show his hands but instead reached under his seat, which prompted the detective, Officer Hassan Handy, to fire into Polanco’s stomach, the New York Post reported. Police later found no weapons in the car, the Post reported.
Polanco was taken to New York Hospital Queens, where he was pronounced dead at 5:58 a.m., according to a statement from the NYPD.
Juan Polanco, Noel’s 53-year-old father, said on a phone call from Colombia that his son was in the National Guard. Polanco grew up in Jamaica and attended Hillcrest High School, according to relatives. He also worked two jobs: one at Parragon Honda in Woodside and the other at Ice Lounge in Astoria. He described his son as a good kid.
“His step dad just passed away,” Juan Polanco said. “He was taking care of the house.”
Family and friends gathered along Ditmars Boulevard near 94th Street in East Elmhurst Thursday night to honor Noel Polanco. His stepsister Melissa Rodriguez, 23, described him as a good artist who was friendly, funny and shy.
“He kept to himself mostly, did what he had to,” Rodriguez said.
The female passengers were bartender Diane DeFerrari and off-duty cop Vanessa Rodriguez, who was asleep at the time of the shooting, the Post reported. DeFerrari described the officers’ actions to the Post as “road rage.”
“There was no reason for this innocent to be killed,” DeFerrari told the Post. “He was shot intentionally.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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