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Man pleads guilty in 2019 friendly fire killing of NYPD detective in Richmond Hill

Thousands of police officers attended Simonsen's Long Island funeral. (Photo by Tim Bolger)

The defendant in the 2019 friendly fire death of NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen is facing 33 years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter charges on Wednesday, Oct. 20.

Christopher Ransom, 30, formerly of St. John’s Place in Brooklyn, also pleaded guilty to robbery for holding up a mobile phone store that brought police to the Richmond Hill location and culminated in multiple shots being fired, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

Ransom pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and robbery before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder.

Christopher Ransom pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the friendly fire death of Detective Brian Simonsen in Richmond Hill in 2019. (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

According to court records, on Feb. 12, 2019, Ransom and a co-defendant arrived at the T-Mobile store on 120th Street in Richmond Hill shortly after 6 p.m. Ransom entered the business brandishing a black pistol and ordered two employees inside to surrender both cash and merchandise from the back of the store.

Ranson was still inside the location when police officers from the 102nd Precinct responded to the scene. He then pointed the gun, which appeared real, at the police officers, who discharged their weapons in response.

Detectives at the T-Mobile store crime scene after Detective Brian Simonsen was shot and killed in a friendly fire incident. (Photo by Robert Stidiron)

An NYPD investigation found that seven of the officers fired 42 shots from both sides of the store. Simonsen, a 19-year-veteran of the NYPD, was struck in the chest and died while he was transported in an unmarked car to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

Simonsen was representing the precinct’s rank-and-file during a union meeting on the day he was killed. Mayor Bill de Blasio would later say the detective could have “called it a day” and gone home, but he rushed to the T-Mobile Store when the call came in.

Sergeant Matthew Gorman was seriously injured with a bullet wound to his left leg.

“The defendant set in motion a terrible chain of events that began with a robbery and ended with a spray of bullets when Ransom pointed what appeared to be a deadly firearm toward police officers,” Katz said. “The defendant was repeatedly told to lower his weapon but did not do so. The heartbreaking result was the loss of Detective Simonsen’s life and Sergeant Matthew Gorman being shot in the leg. We express our condolences once again to Detective Simonsen’s family and hope today brings them a measure of closure.”

Based on the negotiated plea, Justice Holder is expected to sentence Ranson to a total of 33 years in prison to be followed by five years’ post-release supervision at sentencing on Nov. 17.

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