The shooting happened in the eastbound lanes approaching the airport exit just after 5 a.m. Police described it as a traffic stop gone bad.
"I'm the last friendly face he saw as he was being dragged out like a dog," said eyewitness Dianne Di Ferrari.
Di Ferrari's friend was dying before her eyes after being shot by an NYPD detective during a traffic stop early Thursday morning. Noel Polanco, 22, DiFerrari and some other had left the Ice Bar in Astoria.
In surveillance video obtained by Eyewitness News, Polanco is shown leaving the bar. Just minutes later, Polanco was weaving in and out of traffic on the Grand Central Parkway in his Black Honda, according to DiFerrari, who was in the car when he cut off two unmarked police vehicles.
The woman told officers the three had just left the Ice Lounge nightclub in Astoria, Queens. The woman in the front seat was an employee of the Ice Lounge, and the driver might have been taking her home. The woman in back seat is an off-duty NYPD officer who told detectives she was asleep and didn't see what transpired prior to the shooting. She has been an NYPD officer for the past four years.
Eventually Polanco pulled over, and the car was descended on by heavily-armed police.
Di Ferrari says she wasn't sure the men who pulled the car over were police until after the shot was fired - what she calls the 'pop'.
Police did not recover a gun, but they did find a power drill in the car.
The officer, who fired once, is assigned to the NYPD's Emergency Service Unit apprehension team.
Get Eyewitness News Delivered