Guardsman killed by cop promoted at funeral

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An Army National Guardsman shot by New York City police was honored with a posthumous promotion Friday during his emotional funeral.

Mourners applauded when Noel Polanco's battalion commander, Lt. Col. James Freehart, announced, "I do promote you to sergeant in the United States Army."

More than a dozen uniformed National Guard reservists joined the standing-room-only crowd of about 300 at Eternal Love Baptist Church in Corona, Queens. Ushers passed out tissues as people sobbed.

"My son was an angel," said Polanco's weeping mother, Cecilia Reyes. "And he's my prince, and I'm going to miss him with all my heart."

Polanco, 22, was unarmed when police pulled him over for a traffic violation on Oct. 4 near LaGuardia Airport.

A lawyer for the detective who shot him has said Polanco did not comply with orders to put his hands up and reached for something under his seat. Polanco's front-seat passenger has disputed that account.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who is advising the family, suggested in his eulogy that police had profiled Polanco.

"When you saw him, you saw a gang member," Sharpton said. "Well, his gang was the U.S. Army."

The portrait of Polanco that emerged during the two-hour service was of a loving son and brother who worked several jobs, performed weekend National Guard service and joined a club for car enthusiasts called Center of Attention.

Capt. Daniel Colomb, Polanco's company commander, said Polanco assisted needy families in upstate New York recovering from Tropical Storm Irene last year and more recently volunteered to help rehabilitate a historic fire tower in upstate Beacon.

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"Personal sacrifice for the good of others was something that Noel was raised to believe in," Colomb said.

The funeral came a day after Polanco's mother met with Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who is investigating the shooting and said he expects to present the case to a grand jury.

Family members vowed to fight for justice.

"I want my brother to rest in peace, but I know along with peace we need to have justice as well," his brother Jonathan Polanco said.

After the service, reservists saluted as Polanco's flag-draped coffin was carried out of the church.

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