Brian Simonsen

Man With Fake Gun Gets 33 Years in 2019 Friendly Fire Death of NYPD Detective

Det. Brian Simonsen was shot in the chest in February 2019 as he and six other officers opened fire on Christopher Ransom during a robbery at a T-Mobile store in Queens

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What to Know

  • A man charged in the 2019 friendly fire death of an NYPD officer was sentenced to 33 years in prison plus 5 years post-release supervision
  • Det. Brian Simonsen was shot in the chest in February 2019 as he and six other officers opened fire on Christopher Ransom during a robbery at a T-Mobile store in Queens. Ransom signed a plea deal last month
  • Ransom, who police say was pointing a fake handgun, had said the shooting stemmed from a "prank gone horribly wrong"

A man charged in the 2019 friendly fire death of a veteran NYPD detective was sentenced Wednesday to 33 years in prison, plus five years post-release supervision, after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter and robbery.

Christopher Ransom, who had initially been charged with murdering 42-year-old Det. Brian Simonsen, waived his right to appeal during last month's plea hearing and answered affirmatively to questions asked by Judge Kenneth Holder in court.

"I am the author of the chain of events that led to the death of Detective Simonsen and for that I am deeply sorry," Ransom said at his sentencing on Wednesday. "I would like forgiveness but I would no dare as of it, I would not put that burden on the late detective's loved ones."

Even if he had asked for forgiveness, Simonsen's widow would not have offered any.

"I know the correct and the Christian thing to do was to look you in the eye and forgive you, but today I can't and I don't," said Leanne Simonsen.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth holder did not hold back on the 30-year-old Ransom either.

"Your idiocy has destroyed families. You have taken a husband from his wife, a man from his community, and a detective from a job he loved and dedicated his life to," said Holder. "You've reached the pinnacle of your idiocy, a level which most people never achieve."

Simonsen was shot in the chest in February 2019 as he and six other officers opened fire on Ransom during a robbery at a T-Mobile store in Queens' Richmond Hill neighborhood. Another sergeant was wounded.

Ransom, who police say was pointing a fake handgun, had said the shooting stemmed from a "prank gone horribly wrong." He said he returned the workers' money -- a claim that investigators deny -- but police were already responding.

NYPD officers discharged a total of 42 rounds at the scene within 11 seconds, investigators have said. 

A criminal complaint released after the shooting said Ransom and another man netted $1,000 and 25 iPhones from the robbery. They planned to split the proceeds.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said that the sentencing "brings closure for the family, but I don't think it brings an end for the family. They will deeply feel the loss of Brian Simonsen for the rest of their lives."

In an interview after his arrest, Ransom said he was "not a monster" and didn't anticipate what happened. Police described him as a career criminal with more than two dozen arrests prior to this case; friends called him an eccentric prankster.

The Legal Aid Society, which represented Ransom in the case, released a statement Wednesday saying their client "takes full responsibility for his actions."

Ransom, who has 25 prior arrests including one for impersonating a police officer, was shot eight times on that winter day in 2019. Justice Holder said that Ransom spent his life doing childish pranks and antics, all in search of social media audiences — and on Wednesday, the judge said that Ransom got that audience he had been looking for.

"None of them are here to cheer you on, they're here to watch you be removed from society until the point where you only exist in the far end of their memories," Holder said.

A 19-year veteran of the NYPD, Simonsen was known since childhood as "Smiles" for his bright, welcoming nature, colleagues and friends said.

He grew up on the east end of Long Island. He and his wife continued to live close by in Calverton -- more than an hour's drive from the 102nd precinct where he spent his entire NYPD career. Simonsen was survived by his wife and his mother.

At the time of his death, top NYPD officials said the entire department respected and appreciated Ransom as a police officer, a colleague and a friend.

"There wasn't a person in the 102 that didn't know him, from the cleaner to the command officer," then-NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said at the time of Simonsen's death. "He was who you called if you had a problem. Wasn't just the cops who knew him well, the community, everyone knew him, that he's the cop you reached out to if a problem needed to be handled."

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