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Sharpton demands 'fair' probe in NYPD shooting

The Rev. Al Sharpton consoles Cecilia Reyes, mother

The Rev. Al Sharpton consoles Cecilia Reyes, mother of Noel Polanco, who was shot by police during a traffic stop on the Grand Central Parkway, at a news conference in the National Action Network headquarters in Harlem. (Oct. 6, 2012) Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

The Rev. Al Sharpton Saturday criticized the NYPD's training of officers and called for a fair investigation into a detective's fatal shooting of an unarmed Army National Guardsman in Queens last week.

"There must be a real review of training in this city," Sharpton said at a news conference about the slaying of Noel Polanco, 23, who was killed during a traffic stop early Thursday. "And there must be a fair and immediate investigation moving forward."

"It undermines other police when you try to excuse behavior by police that goes over the line," Sharpton said, at the Harlem gathering with the dead man's family.

Polanco was shot by Det. Hassan Hamdy, 39, of Centereach, on the Grand Central Parkway in East Elmhurst. Police said Polanco was pulled over for erratic driving.

The Queens district attorney's office and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Division are investigating the shooting.

Later Saturday, Sharpton appeared with police Commissioner Ray Kelly at a panel discussion on fighting crime in black communities. Neither man addressed the Polanco shooting directly.

Asked about Polanco after the panel, Kelly said the department's investigation "is going forward aggressively."

At the news conference, Sharpton said he and Polanco's family, which has retained attorneys Sanford Rubenstein and Michael Hardy, will push for a grand jury investigation.

"At this time, the family is really focused on the criminal side," Rubenstein said Saturday. He said he would file a motion in civil court for an order to preserve evidence in the case.

Flanked by a group of teary-eyed family members at the news conference, Polanco's mother, Cecilia Reyes, vowed to fight for her slain son. "I'm going to go for justice . . . I don't want to see any other person go through what I am feeling," she said.

"I'm sure that no other mother or parent wants to see their kid taken away by people who don't deserve to be in that uniform. What are they teaching them?" she asked.

Family members said Polanco aspired to finish his National Guard service and then become an NYPD officer.

Rubenstein said that the family wants to have a full military funeral for Polanco.

With Polanco's Honda boxed in by police vans, Hamdy approached an open passenger side window, according to the NYPD.

Diane DeFerrari, who was in the front passenger seat, raised her hands as instructed and then Hamdy fired past her, striking Polanco in the abdomen, police said.

She told authorities that she last saw Polanco's hands on the steering wheel, police said.

It's unclear why Hamdy fired his Glock 19, striking Polanco in the abdomen. A source said Polanco did not comply with an order to raise his hands.

Hamdy was on assignment with an NYPD emergency services apprehension unit when the encounter occurred.

Vanessa Rodriguez, an off-duty officer, was asleep in the Honda's backseat during the fatal encounter, but was awakened by the gunshot, according to her sister Sandra Rodriguez.

Federal court records show Hamdy was among a group of officers sued by a Brooklyn club owner who accused police of harassment in 1999. The case was settled for $291,000 with no admission of liability by the city, records show.

With Anthony Destefano, Igor Kossov and AP

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