Queens robbery suspect involved in fatal NYPD friendly fire arraigned; Legal Aid cries foul over access

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The suspect in a Richmond Hill attempted robbery that led to the friendly fire death of Detective Brian Simonsen and the wounding of his partner, Sergeant Matthew Gorman on Feb. 12, was arraigned on murder charges at his hospital bed on Friday afternoon, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said.

Christopher Ransom, 27, was shot multiple times after he allegedly pointed an imitation pistol at cops responding to a reported armed robbery on Feb. 12 at a T-Mobile store at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and 120th Street. As the cops opened fire, Simonsen was hit twice in the chest by bullets and later died of his injuries.

Ransom was charged by the Queens District Attorney’s office at his bedside with 14 counts including two for second degree murder and one for second degree aggravated manslaughter. Meanwhile, the Legal Aid Society, which has taken up Ransom’s defense, claimed on Friday that the NYPD has barred access by the organization to the defendant, who is hospitalized at NewYork-Presbyterian Queens.

“The events that took place this past week leading to the death of Detective Brian Simonsen and the injury of Sergeant Matthew Gorman are indeed tragic. However, we caution everyone, including the media, not to demonize Mr. Ransom who was shot several times,” according to the Feb. 15 statement from Legal Aid Society. “Our immediate concern involves access to Mr. Ransom; and up until this afternoon, the NYPD had repeatedly denied Mr. Ransom’s family and his attorneys the opportunity to visit him, to counsel him, and to appraise his condition.”

The Legal Aid Society went on to allege that the NYPD “leaked selective details and false information” about Ransom’s record, though his defense team “has also been denied access to case evidence, including recordings of the incident.”

QNS reached out to the NYPD for further comment on the matter, and is awaiting a response.

Simonsen was at the 102nd Precinct, where he served for 19 years, investigating an unrelated robbery pattern when a call went out about an armed robbery. He and Gorman responded to the incident and upon arriving at the Richmond Hill T-Mobile store on Atlantic Avenue.

Up to seven officers took position outside the storefront while Ransom who charged outside brandishing an imitation pistol. Cops said he simulated firing the fake gun before officers fired their real weapons.

Forty-two rounds were fired in 11 seconds, NYPD said, and both Simonsen and Gorman — who were in plainclothes — were wounded by the gunfire. After announcing Simonsen’s death on Feb. 12, Police Commissioner James O’Neill maintained that Ransom was responsible because his alleged actions prompted responding officers to open fire.

“This tragic incident once again reminds us of the dangers that our police officers face each day as they risk their lives to keep our streets safe,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said on Feb. 15. “The defendant is accused of robbing a Richmond Hill phone store and then upon exiting pointing what appeared to be a firearm at responding police officers, which, regrettably, led to the death of one police officer and the wounding of another.  This defendant will be vigorously prosecuted.”

Ransom, who was formerly of St. John’s Place in Brooklyn, according to the DA, was ordered held without bail and faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. He will appear in court on Feb. 19.

This story will be updated as more details become available.