The Brooklyn man who started the chain of events at a Richmond Hill cellphone store in 2019 that led to the friendly-fire killing of NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen was sentenced to 33 years in prison Wednesday morning, Nov. 17, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Christopher Ransom, 30, formerly of St. John’s Place, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated manslaughter in October before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder, who handed down the sentence.
Ransom also pleaded guilty to another cellphone store robbery that occurred on Feb. 8, 2019.
According to court records, on the night of Feb. 12, 2019, Ransom and an accomplice, Jagger Freeman, used a fake gun to hold up the T-Mobile store on 120th Street shortly after 6 p.m. Ransom entered the business brandishing what appeared to be a black pistol and ordered two employees inside to surrender both cash and merchandise from the back of the store.
Ransom was still inside the location when police officers from the 102nd Precinct responded to the scene. Ransom proceeded to point the weapon, which appeared real, at the police officers, who opened fire in response.
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, who spent his entire career at the 102nd Precinct, was struck in the chest and died while he was transported in an unmarked car to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
A second officer, Sergeant Matthew Gorman was seriously injured with a bullet wound to his left leg and Ransom was struck eight times in the crossfire.
Simonsen had been representing his precinct’s rank-and-file during a union meeting on the day he was killed. Mayor Bill de Blasio later said the detective could have “called it a day” and gone home, but he rushed to the T-Mobile store when the call came in.
Simonsen was 42 years old.
“My hope is that the family of Detective Brian Simonsen may finally have some closure with the sentencing of this defendant,” Katz said. “His lawless, selfish behavior set the terrible events of that day in motion. He committed one of several robberies and terrified the employees of that cellphone store before drawing the fire of police. The heartbreaking result was the loss of Detective Simonsen and the injury of Sergeant Matthew Gorman.”
The Legal Aid Society served as counsel for Ransom.
“With this plea agreement, Christopher Ransom takes full responsibility for his actions. The resolution of the case, however, should not detract from the immense physical and emotional pain that he continues to endure as a result of the injuries sustained in the NYPD’s friendly fire shootout,” The Legal Aid Society said in a statement. “The police fired 42 shots in 11 seconds that night, shooting Mr. Ransom eight times. He will carry physical scars and emotional trauma from this event for the rest of his life. 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.”
Detective Simonsen was survived by his wife, Leanne, who was in the courtroom and delivered an impact statement directed toward Ransom before the sentencing.
“Brian was my perfect man and your reckless actions took him away,” she said. “It is a Christian thing to forgive you. At this time I can’t forgive you.”
Detective Paul Giacomo, Simonsen’s longtime partner, said, “Brian was a world-class detective. We miss him dearly at the 102nd Precinct. I want to thank the prosecution for doing an outstanding job and getting the family justice.”
Additional reporting by Lloyd Mitchell.