The commander of an elite police unit whose members were involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Army National Guardsman this month on the Grand Central Parkway has been reassigned and will take over Monday as head of the NYPD detective bureau in Queens, a law enforcement official said.
The reassignment by Commissioner Ray Kelly of Deputy Chief James G. Molloy comes 2 1/2 weeks after the Oct. 4 highway shooting death by police of Noel Polanco, 22, as he was driving home from his job at an Astoria lounge with two female acquaintances.
But it couldn't be definitively determined Sunday if the personnel move by the department had anything to do with the shooting death, in which Polanco was struck once by a shot fired by Emergency Service Unit Det. Hassan Hamby, 39, of Centereach.
"We are definitely interested in knowing if this has anything to do with the wrongful death of Polanco, but we just don't know," Sanford Rubenstein, the attorney for Polanco's family, said Sunday.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne declined to comment on the move Sunday. The transfer doesn't involve any change in rank for Molloy, 51, who is being succeeded by Deputy Chief Vincent Giordano of the counterterrorism bureau, said an official who didn't want to be named.
"It is not an insignificant job," the official said of Molloy's new post. An officer at the Queens bureau said Molloy is scheduled to start Monday.
The ESU is one of the NYPD's high-profile commands. Molloy had the job of commander for more than three years.
Molloy didn't return a number of telephone calls for comment last week. In his new job, Molloy will be in charge of hundreds of NYPD detectives assigned to the Queens command who take on many of the bread-and-butter investigations of police work.
Polanco's case has triggered an investigation by the Queens district attorney's office. Kelly has said that he believed the matter had to be aired before a grand jury to sort out the facts.
Family and friends of Polanco said Hamdy fired suddenly at him as he sat in his stopped vehicle near Exit 7 with his hands on the steering wheel. A lawyer for Hamdy said the detective saw Polanco make a sudden move under his seat and feared he had a gun. No weapon was in the car.