Brian Simonsen

DECADES FOR DETECTIVE’S DEATH: A Brooklyn man will serve 33 years in prison following his guilty plea and sentencing in connection with his attempted robbery of a Queens cellphone store in February 2019 during which NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen was killed in a hail of gunfire by fellow officers.

The man whose robbery of a Queens cell phone store led to the "friendly fire" by police officers that killed NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen in February 2019 was sentenced Nov. 17 to 33 years in prison. 

Christopher Ransom, 30, pleaded guilty last month to aggravated manslaughter and robbery before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder in connection with the fateful robbery that precipitated a shootout involving as many as eight officers, including Detective Simonsen, 42. Mr. Ransom, formerly of Brooklyn, had also pleaded guilty to robbery in the second degree for a separate hold-up four days before the fatal Feb. 12 encounter. 

A Wannabe Cop

“My hope is that the family of Detective Brian Simonsen may finally have some closure with the sentencing of this defendant,” District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. “His lawless, selfish behavior set the terrible events of that day in motion. He committed one of several robberies and terrified the employees of that cell phone store before drawing the fire of police. The heartbreaking result was the loss Detective Simonsen and the injury of Sergeant Matthew Gorman.”

Mr. Gorman, Detective Simonsen’s partner, was shot once in the leg during the robbery. He recuperated and was recently promoted to Lieutenant.  

He and Detective Simonsen were in the neighborhood of the T-Mobile store on 120th St. near Atlantic Ave. doing surveillance on another case, when they and six other officers responded to 911 calls of an armed robbery in progress at the Richmond Hill outlet.  

Sergeant Gorman and two other officers entered the store and were immediately confronted by Mr. Ransom,  a wannabe-cop and convicted felon, who raised what turned out to be a fake gun and charged at the officers, who retreated outside. When the robber reached the front of the store, all but one of the officers fired, hitting him several times, but also fatally wounding Detective Simonsen.

42 Rounds Fired

All told, seven service members discharged a total of 42 rounds in a roughly 10-second burst. Detective Simonsen, who was not wearing a bullet-proof vest, was hit once in the chest.

He and Sergeant Gorman were taken to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, about a mile away. A hospital trauma team tried to save the Detective, but could not. Mr. Ransom was hit eight times. 

“Make no mistake about it—friendly fire aside—it’s because of the actions of the suspect that Detective Simonsen is dead,” then-Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said at a news conference hours after the shooting.

The case against Mr. Ransom’s co-defendant, Jagger Freeman, is pending. His next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 10. 

The Legal Aid Society, whose attorneys represented Mr. Ransom, said the Brooklyn man was taking “full responsibility” his actions that afternoon. 

“The resolution of the case, however, should not detract from the immense physical and emotional pain that he continues to endure as a result of injuries sustained in the NYPD's friendly-fire shootout,” the organization said in a statement. “He will carry physical scars and emotional trauma from this event for the rest of his life. Despite this, Mr. Ransom is committed towards seeking rehabilitation and redemption. We hope that the NYPD also takes this opportunity to reexamine their own procedures and training so that a tragedy like this never happens again.”


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