A Jamaica resident was found guilty of murder in the friendly-fire death of NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen in February 2019.
Jagger Freeman, 28, at trial Monday, June 13, was convicted of murder, robbery, assault and other crimes for his role in a cellphone store robbery that resulted in the death of Simonsen, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. A second NYPD officer was also wounded when uniformed police responded to the scene and multiple rounds were fired.
A jury rendered its verdict after five days of deliberation. Freeman’s co-defendant, Christopher Ransom, pleaded guilty in October to aggravated manslaughter and robbery and is currently serving 33 years in prison.
According to court records, on the night of Feb. 12, 2019, Ransom and Freeman arrived at the T-Mobile store on 120th Street in Richmond Hill. Ransom entered the store brandishing a black pistol and ordered two employees to surrender cash and merchandise from the back room of the store. Ransom was still inside the store when police from the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hill arrived at the scene. Ransom pointed his gun, which appeared real, at the police, who fired their weapons 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. 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.
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.
Freeman, of Merrick Boulevard, was found guilty of murder in the second degree, robbery in the first and second degree, assault in the second degree and grand larceny in the third and fourth degree.
“The jury has spoken. 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,” Katz said. “We express our condolences to Detective Simonsen’s family and hope today’s verdict brings them a measure of closure.”
Freeman did not fire a shot that night, but under New York’s felony murder statute, he was held responsible for causing Simonsen’s death while committing a felony.
“The law is clear, if you commit a violent crime that results in the death of a police officer or someone in the public they protect, it s murder,” NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell said. “The jury followed the evidence presented and delivered justice for our New York City hero. We are grateful for their service and the work of the prosecutors.”
Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder, who presided at the trial, set sentencing for June 30. At that time, Freeman faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
“Jagger Freeman set out to commit a violent robbery in February 2019,” Detectives Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo said. “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. In the courtroom and forever, we stand with his family”
The June 13 conviction included robbery in the second degree and grand larceny in the third degree related to Freeman’s participation in a separate cellphone store robbery on Feb. 8, 2019.