Man charged in 2019 killing of NYPD officer denied release from Rikers amid COVID-19 concerns

File photo/Robert Stridiron

One of the men charged in the 2019 death of NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen was denied a potential early release from Rikers Island, a judge ruled on Wednesday, April 15.

Christopher Ransom, who is being held pending trial, was one of eight defendants denied release from the jail by Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth C. Holder. The district attorney’s office has been evaluating the release of defendants in Rikers Island during the COVID-19 pandemic. The release of all eight of the defendants – all of whom were represented by the Legal Aid Society – was opposed by Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

On Feb. 12, 2019, police responded to a burglary call at a T-Mobile store in Richmond Hill. They arrived to find Ransom and his accomplice, Jagger Freeman, allegedly robbing the store. Ransom pointed a fake gun at the officers, who fired back 42 times, according to the NYPD. Simonsen, one of the responding officers, died as a result of friendly fire.

Freeman was also denied release from Rikers earlier this week.

The district attorney’s office says they’ve established protocol to evaluate Queens defendants that could potentially be released. Those with medical issues get priority for release consideration, the DA said.

Among the defendants denied release on Wednesday were Armando Santiago, who is accused of committing a string of home invasions in June 2019 after being released from prison, and Frantz Petion, an emergency medical technician awaiting trial after allegedly raping a 10-year-old child.

Katz said her office has signed off on the release of over 90 defendants and did not object to about 150 other defendants requesting release from Rikers Island, where hundreds of inmates and correctional officers have contracted COVID-19.

“Throughout this pandemic, the DA’s Office has prioritized releasing individuals in the interest of justice, while also keeping mind the safety of our communities here in Queens,” Katz said. “Decisions are made balancing public safety issues and public health issues while also evaluating the merits of each petition. The interests of justice are best served by these thoughtful, case specific resolutions.”