New York City

NYC wrongful death lawsuit settled

February 12, 2014 By Charisma L. Miller, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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New York City has reached a settlement with the family of an unarmed National Guardsman killed by police during a Queens traffic stop. The city will reportedly pay $2.5 million to the family of Noel Polanco.

Emergency Service Unit Detective Hassan Hamdy shot Polanco on Oct. 4, 2012 through an open passenger window because he believed Polanco was reaching under the seat. During trial, Hamdy testified that Polanco refused to show Hamdy his hands and lunged toward the floor, presumably to reach for a weapon. No weapon was found in Polanco’s vehicle, and a passenger in the car stated that Polanco had his hands on the steering wheel during the entire interaction with Hamdy.

Criminal charges were brought against Hamdy, but a Queens grand jury refused to vote on a true bill of indictment. “I think [Hamdy’s tearful testimony] was the compelling factor,” Hamdy’s attorney said at the time. “I think the jurors believed him.”

The Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office also reviewed the incident and concluded the detective did not intentionally violate the victim’s civil rights. Polanco’s family moved for a civil claim for Polcano’s wrongful death at the hands of a city employee. Filing a notice of claim on Feb. 20, 2013, the Polacno family, through their Brooklyn attorney Sanford Rubenstein, sought damages for Polanco’s “mortal injuries” which were, according to the notice of claim, “a direct result of the negligence, recklessness and carelessness” of the city and its employee Hamdy.

For the injuries leading to Polanco’s death, the emotional and distress Polanco suffered leading to his health and the loss of earnings and support that Polanco’s family incurred after his death, the family demanded damages in the amount of $20 million.  That number was significantly reduced, with the final settled amount being $2.5 million.

“This is a fair settlement for damages for the wrongful death of a fine young soldier who should not have died the way he did,” Rubenstein said in a statement.

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