New York, NY – A suspect who held up a T-Mobile store at gunpoint, leading to the friendly-fire shooting death of a veteran New York police detective, was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Wednesday.
The incident occurred at a Richmond Hill T-Mobile store just before 6:15 p.m., after 42-year-old Det. Simonsen and 34-year-old Sergeant Matthew Gorman responded to a report that an armed suspect came into the store and forced two employees into a back room at gunpoint, The New York Times reported.
The 102nd Precinct detective squad officers were in plainclothes when they arrived at the Atlantic Avenue storefront, and immediately encountered the armed suspect inside the store.
Ransom, a “career criminal,” then pointed his handgun at the officers and charged towards them, then-New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said at the time, according to the New York Post.
The veteran officers opened fire on the suspect and retreated out of the store.
But as they exited, both officers were shot by other officers who had arrived at the scene.
At least rounds were fired by eight officers, a police source told the New York Post.
Det. Simonsen was hit in the chest, while Sgt. Gorman was struck in the thigh, The New York Times reported.
Commissioner O’Neill described the shooting during a press conference as “an absolute tragic case of friendly fire.”
Det. Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the force, was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Care, where he was pronounced dead, The New York Times reported.
A motorist passing by the scene of the shooting stopped to help Sgt. Gorman, and transported him to the same hospital, Commissioner O’Neill said.
The sergeant was taken into surgery and survived his wounds.
— Marla Diamond (@MDiamond8) February 13, 2019
Ransom, who was shot several times, was transported to a hospital in Queens for treatment.
Investigators later determined that the weapon Ransom was carrying was a replica handgun.
Ransom pleaded guilty to robbery and aggravated manslaughter as part of a plea agreement, and was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Nov. 17, the New York Daily News reported.
He also pleaded guilty to a separate robbery incident that took place on Feb. 8, 2019, according to WNYW.
Ransom was sentenced to serve five years of post-release supervision after he wraps up his prison time.
Photos:Christopher Ransom was sentenced to 33 years in prison for friendly fire death of NYPD Decetive Brian Simmonsen in Feb 2019 during robbery of T Mobile store in Richmond Hill,Queens. #LloydMitchellPhotography #Queens #NYPD #Photojournalism #Qns #journalism #lineofdutydeath pic.twitter.com/u8LPxBIMnz
— Lloyd Mitchell (@Lloydphoto) November 17, 2021
“My hope is that the family of Detective Brian Simonsen may finally have some closure with the sentencing of this defendant. His lawless, selfish behavior set the terrible events of that day in motion,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz told the New York Daily News after the sentencing hearing.
Law enforcement officers packed the courtroom Wednesday as a show of support to Det. Simonsen’s family and his widow, Leanne Simonsen, WABC reported.
“We had so many plans, so much living to do together,” Leanne Simonsen told Ransom while delivering her victim impact statement. “You robbed us of this. You took my joy. You took my life right along with his that night.”
Ransom took responsibility for Det. Simonsen’s death while addressing Leanne Simonsen and the dozens of officers who attended the hearing.
“I have slowly over time came to the realization that I am the author of the chain of events that led to the death of Simonsen and for that, I am deeply sorry,” Ransom said, according to WNYW. “There are no explanations I can give to Detective Simonsen’s grievers to why I did not just drop that stupid fake gun when I was told to do so. I just have to now live with the fact of knowing that things would have played out differently if I had done so.”
“I’m sorry you did not have more time with your husband because of my actions,” he told Leanne Simonsen, according to WABC. “I never met the man, but from what I heard, the city has lost a true hero.”
An emotional day for Detectives and the Simonsen family while they packed a Queens courtroom as the violent criminal responsible for the death of Detective Brian Simonsen was taken away to serve 33 years in prison. The DEA hopes that will be the remainder of his life. pic.twitter.com/amQi1kdLaQ
— Detectives' Endowment Association (@NYCPDDEA) November 17, 2021
Ransom’s accomplice, Jagger Freeman, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault, murder, robbery, and weapons possession offenses, the New York Daily News reported.
The Legal Aid Society, which represented Ransom in this case, issued a statement Wednesday noting their client had taken responsibility for his actions, but that New York Police Department (NYPD) also needs to make changes, WNYW reported.
The Legal Aid Society pointed out that officers fired a total of 42 rounds during the encounter, hitting Ransom eight times.
“He will carry physical scars and emotional trauma from this event for the rest of his life,” the defense attorneys added, according to WABC. “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.”