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NYPD officer who shot unarmed motorist 'eager' to tell his story

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York police detective who fatally shot an unarmed motorist last week is "more than eager" to tell his side of the story to any investigating authorities, his attorney said Monday after receiving word the city's police commissioner called for a grand jury probe of the incident.

New York Detective Hassan Hamdy's "pulling the trigger did not occur in a bubble," said attorney Philip Karasyk. "Way before that happened, the driver was acting in such a manner as to continuously raise the level of threat" to the police, he said.

The police said Hamdy shot Noel Polanco, 22, just after 5 a.m. on October 4 after pulling the U.S. Army reservist over for erratic driving on a Queens highway. Karasyk said his client maintains that Polanco ignored police orders to put his hands in the air and instead reached down with both hands to the car's floorboard.

An NYPD statement released last week is consistent with Krasyk's description of the lead-up to the shooting.

But witness Diane DeFerrari, 37, a bartender whom Polanco was driving home from her work at a Queens nightclub, said Polanco's hands never left the wheel, according to attorney Sanford Rubenstein, who is also representing Polanco's mother.

The conflicting accounts have led New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to call for a grand jury investigation into the shooting, The New York Post reported on Monday.

The shooting "will require what I believe to be a grand jury investigation to determine precisely what happened there," Kelly told the paper.

An NYPD spokesman did not respond to requests for comment on Kelly's remarks.

Karasyk declined to make Hamdy available for an interview.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has launched an investigation into the incident, as has the NYPD.

A funeral for Polanco with U.S. military honors is being planned, Rubenstein added.

(Reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Dan Burns; Desking by G Crosse)

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