Queens, 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 convicted of murder on Monday.
Jagger Freeman, 28, had been charged with murder, assault, robbery, and 11 other offenses in connection with the February, 2019 robbery in Richmond Hill that resulted in the death of New York Police Detective Brian Simonsen, WABC reported.
New York Police Sergeant Matthew Gorman was also critically wounded during the incident, according to Spectrum News.
Freeman was convicted by a Queens jury on June 13 after five days of deliberation, CBS News reported.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 30 and faces 25 years to life in prison.
Freeman, who was convicted of 13 out of the 14 counts he’d been charged with, began crying and proclaiming his innocence as he was led out of the courtroom after the jury rendered its verdict, the New York Post reported.
“For murder though?” he yelled. “I didn’t do this s—t!”
The verdict also shocked his attorney, Ronald Nir, according to the New York Post.
Nir said he expected the jury to convict his client on the robbery-related offenses, but that he anticipated Freeman would be cleared on the charges related to the officers being shot.
“The jury has spoken,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz told Spectrum News. “The defendant’s actions set in motion a terrible chain of events that began with an armed robbery in progress and resulted in the tragic loss of Detective Brian Simonsen as well as Sergeant Matthew Gorman being shot in the leg.”
“Following an eight-week-long trial, a jury found the defendant guilty of murder,” Katz continued. “We express our condolences to Detective Simonsen’s family and hope today’s verdict brings them a measure of closure.”
Freeman’s co-defendant, 30-year-old Christopher Ransom, previously pleaded guilty to robbery and aggravated manslaughter as part of a plea agreement, and was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Nov. 17, 2021, the New York Daily News reported.
Ransom was also sentenced to serve five years of post-release supervision after he wraps up his prison time.
The incident occurred at a Richmond Hill T-Mobile store just before 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2019, after 42-year-old Det. Simonsen and 34-year-old Sgt. 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.
Multiple 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.
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.
Police said Freeman was Ransom’s lookout and co-conspirator, Spectrum News reported.
“Jagger Freeman set out to commit a violent robbery in February 2019,” Detectives Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo said in a statement on Monday. “If not for his and Christopher Ransom’s actions, Detective Brian Simonsen would be alive today. They planned together, went to the scene of the crime together, and now, together, will be behind bars where they belong.”
“We said we wouldn’t rest until there was justice for Brian, our union delegate and hero,” DiGiacomo added. “In the courtroom and forever, we stand with his family.”