El Diario Calls for Firing of Detective in Polanco Case

Noel Polanco was shot dead by an NYPD detective during an early morning traffic stop in Queens last October. (Photo via El Diario-La Prensa)

El Diario-La Prensa is calling for the dismissal of a police detective who fatally shot an unarmed national guardsman after pulling him over last October in Queens, in a scathing editorial entitled “Fire Dt. Hamdy from the NYPD.”

There should be zero tolerance for bad police practices, which is why New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly should fire Detective Hassan Hamdy.

Last October, Hamdy fatally shot Noel Polanco, 22, during an early morning traffic stop in Queens. The NYPD says Polanco was driving erratically on the Grand Central Parkway. After detectives pulled him over, Hamdy shot him. Polanco, 22, who aspired to become a police officer, was unarmed.

Hamdy says he thought Polanco was reaching under his seat for a weapon, which the passenger in the car denies.

The editorial goes on to mention that, last February, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced that a grand jury decided not to file any criminal charges against Hamdy, a decision the Spanish-language newspaper finds “questionable any way you look at it.”

The Polanco family has requested that the U.S. Department of Justice investigate. In the meantime, Kelly can do the right thing and send a strong message: Police officers who recklessly fire their weapons are not guardians of public safety and should not be on the job.

Polanco’s death is a tragedy for the Latino community. The way this detective acted and the lack of immediate accountability only diminishes the confidence people have in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

In a separate article in El Diario, José Acosta reports that Queens politicians have all but forgotten the plight of the family of the Corona resident who was of Colombian and Puerto Rican origin.

Councilwoman Diana Reyna, who represents district 34, declined to comment on the case through her press secretary, Malcolm Sanborn-Hum.

Councilman Peter F. Vallone, from District 22, and Chair of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, said that, as an attorney and former prosecutor, he’s abiding by the evidence put together by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

“If Brown had gathered enough evidence to find the police officer (Hamdy) guilty beyond all reasonable doubt, he would have prosecuted him,” said Vallone, who began his career as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan.

However, Vallone conceded that it is another matter whether Hamdy should be sanctioned by Commissioner Kelly.

According to the story, State Senator José Peralta only voiced via a statement his support for the family if they decide to appeal. The office of Assemblyman Francisco Moya promised to comment but didn’t before the paper’s deadline.

Polanco’s mother, Cecilia Reyes, said only two politicians from Queens have been in contact with her, Peralta and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras.

[Editor’s Note: The article and headline have been corrected to reflect that the paper’s editorial called for the detective to be fired, not suspended.]

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