NYPD brass joined family, friends and co-workers of fallen Det. Brian Simonsen in Richmond Hill Saturday, Oct. 8, to unveil a new street sign that reads “Brian Simonsen Way” at the corner of 118th Street and Jamaica Avenue, just up the street from the 102nd Precinct where he served his entire 19-year career.
The co-naming ceremony honored Simonsen, who was tragically killed in the line of duty in February 2019 during a robbery at a T-Mobile store on 120th Street in Richmond Hill. Simonsen and fellow officer Matthew Gorman were hit by friendly fire after a confrontation in front of the store. An NYPD investigation determined that seven of the officers fired 42 shots from both sides of the store. Simonsen was struck in the chest and died while he was transported in an unmarked car to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
“To have Brian memorialized in Queens right near the 102nd Precinct where he spent his whole career is something that can bring you to your knees,” his wife Leanne said. “To see the outpouring of support from the executives, staff from the NYPD and the Queens community, as well as other families, was phenomenal. Their showing up means so much. We are all going through the same thing and we lift one another up when we are at our lowest and I know I can call you guys anytime I need you.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz and her office successfully prosecuted murder cases against Christopher Ranson and Jagger Freeman even though neither fired a shot. Under New York state’s felony murder charge, if a death occurs during a felony, any participant is responsible for the resulting deaths.
“Leanne and I got to know each other so well over the past few years and as the district attorney of Queens County it is part of my responsibility, part of my office’s responsibility, to hold people accountable for their actions,” Katz said. “I knew when Det. Simonsen was murdered, I was the borough president of Queens County and I knew that responsibility for accountability was going to wind up on my plate. I knew that the prosecutors and the DA’s office would be the ones who are out there making sure that the defendants were brought to justice.”
Simonsen was 42 years old and had been representing his precinct’s rank-and-file during a union meeting on the day he was killed. Then-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.
Councilwoman Lynn Schulman spearheaded the effort to rename the corner “Brian Simonsen Way” through the City Council, to ensure that those who pass by will know a hero was lost and that his legacy lives on in the neighborhood.
“Detective Simonsen dedicated his career to this community,” Schulman said. “I am so proud to have this street co-renaming in his honor, and to have the community he protected with so much pride show up for him today.”