Shooting on Grand Central Parkway - New York News

Witness: cops had no reason to shoot driver on GCP

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The District Attorney is investigating the shooting death of an unarmed man on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens.

An Emergency Services detective shot Noel Polanco, 22, early Thursday morning, according to police.

The man was driving erratically near LaGuardia Airport when he was pulled over by police at about 5:15 a.m. after cutting off an unmarked police van that was traveling next to an ESU truck, said police.

Two uniformed officers -- a sergeant and a detective -- approached on either side, according to NYPD spokesman Paul Browne.

A woman in the front passenger seat later said the officer gave orders to raise their hands, he added.

For reasons still unclear, the detective on the passenger side fired one round through an open window, striking the driver in the stomach, Browne said.

"There was no reason for this innocent man to be killed," Diane DeFarrari, who was in the front seat, told reporters on Thursday.

"Your friend shot himself," DeFerrari reportedly told the NY Post the cop later told her. "But his hands were on the steering wheel at all times," she said.

The man had reportedly reached under his seat as police neared his car.

No gun was recovered in the vehicle. A power drill was found under the front seat.

The head of the union that represents detectives issued a statement challenging DeFarrari's account.

"I wouldn't put much faith in the bartender's version of events. Her version is absurd because no police officer is going to shoot a person when both his hands are on the steering wheel," Detectives' Endowment Association President Michael Palladino said. "We've been down this road before and we ask that the public reserve judgement [sic] while the investigation takes place."

The man, identified as Noel Palanco by his employer, Paragon Honda, was rushed to New York Hospital of Queens where he died.

Also in the car with the man was an off-duty police officer who was sleeping in the back seat and didn't witness the shooting, the New York Times reported.

Police believe all three people in the car, a black 2012 Honda Fit Hybrid, had been drinking at a bar in Astoria where the front-seat passenger worked as a bartender.

A heavy police presence responded to the scene in East Elmhurst and remained there for several hours.

Traffic on the eastbound Grand Central Parkway was at a crawl for most of the morning commute as police intermittently closed all lanes to facilitate their investigation.

The two police vehicles were carrying uniformed officers on their way to execute a search warrant, according to a report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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