NYPD mourns detective killed by friendly fire
NEW YORK – A New York City detective known since childhood as “Smiles” for his bright, welcoming nature died Tuesday night in a hail of police gunfire as officers confronted a robbery suspect who had a fake gun and a long rap sheet that includes an arrest for pretending to be a cop.
Detective Brian Simonsen, 42, was struck in the chest as multiple officers fired on the suspect at a T-Mobile store in Queens, police Commissioner James O’Neill said. Simonsen, a 19-year NYPD veteran, was put in a squad car and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Another officer, Sgt. Matthew Gorman, was shot in the leg, during the chaotic scene. A passerby stopped and drove him to a hospital, where he was in stable condition Wednesday.
“This appears to be an absolutely tragic case of friendly fire,” an emotional O’Neill said. “Make no mistake about it, friendly fire aside, it is because of the actions of the suspect that Detective Simonsen is dead.”
The suspect, identified by a police official as 27-year-old Christopher Ransom, of Brooklyn, was wounded and hospitalized in stable condition. The official was not authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Ransom, listed in police records with the alias “Detective,” has been arrested at least 11 times since 2012, records show. He was wanted by police in connection with a Jan. 19 robbery at another cellphone store in Queens.
In 2016, Ransom was charged with impersonating a police officer after allegedly climbing over a gate and walking up to a desk at a Brooklyn police station while wearing a fake SWAT vest and police badge. Ransom pleaded guilty to criminal trespass and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.
Four years earlier, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to jail time for pretending to be an intern to gain access to a judge’s chambers and later violating an order to stay away by trying to gain access to the courthouse by flashing a photocopied identification.
Simonsen grew up on the east end of Long Island and he and his wife continued to live close by — more than an hour’s drive from the 102nd precinct where he worked his whole career. At Riverhead High School, he played football and baseball and was friends with everyone he met, childhood friend Melissa Weir said.
“Everyone is in complete shock. Everyone is feeling this,” Weir said. “When you have somebody like Brian, it’s really hitting everybody. There are people all over the place hurting.”
Simonsen should’ve been off Tuesday for a union meeting, but he opted to go to work so he could continue tracking a string of recent robberies, Detectives’ Endowment Association president Michael Palladino said.
Ransom sued the city over a 2015 disorderly conduct arrest, alleging officers approached him on a Brooklyn street corner for no reason, cornered him in a food store with guns drawn and took him to a psychiatric ward against his will.
The charges against Ransom were later dismissed, and Ransom dropped the lawsuit in 2016. A message was left for Ransom’s lawyer in the lawsuit.
Police swarmed to the T-Mobile store at around 6:10 p.m., Tuesday after a 911 caller standing outside reported seeing the suspect — dressed in all black and carrying a duffel bag — take two employees to a back room at gunpoint, according to dramatic dispatch audio .
“No sirens, guys,” a dispatcher warns.
Simonsen and Gorman, who were both in plainclothes, were working on another case nearby when the call came over and arrived around the same time as patrol officers, O’Neill said. At first, the front of the store appeared empty, he said.
Then a man matching the suspect’s description emerged from the rear of the store pointing at them what appeared to be handgun and police started shooting, he said.
“Shots fired! Shots fired!” an officer is heard yelling on the dispatch audio over a barrage of gunshots that blew out the store’s doors, showering the sidewalk with glass.
About a minute later, Gorman tells dispatchers that he’s been hit and an officer screams for dispatchers to rush an ambulance to the scene.
Source : MICHAEL R. SISAK Link