Crime and Courts

Man Gets 30 Years to Life for 2019 Robbery That Led to NYPD Cop's Friendly Fire Death

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

NBC Universal, Inc.

A 28-year-old man convicted of murder in connection to a 2019 store robbery that led to the death of a New York City police officer who was hit by crossfire from other officers' guns, was sentenced to 30 years to life for the crime.

Jagger Freeman's sentencing was announced Thursday by Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. Aside from his prison sentence, Freeman -- who pleaded guilty last month -- was also sentenced to 5 years post release supervision.

Prosecutors said he and Christopher Ransom, 30, set off a chain of events that led to New York Police Department Detective Brian Simonsen being killed in February 2019 after officers responded to a Queens store that was being robbed by the two men.

Simonsen was shot in the chest in as he and six other officers opened fire on Ransom during the robbery at a T-Mobile store in the Richmond Hill neighborhood. Another sergeant was wounded.

Authorities said officers fired after they thought a real gun was being pointed at them by Ransom, with 42-year-old Simonsen ending up fatally shot and another officer wounded.

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

Freeman was convicted of murder, robbery, assault and other charges for his role in the deadly shooting. Police said he acted as lookout during the robbery. His lawyer declined to comment.

His sentencing includes the conviction for robbery in the second degree and grand larceny in the third degree related to Freeman’s participation in a separate cell phone store robbery on Feb. 8, 2019.

“The defendant orchestrated a string of robberies, the last of which involved an imitation weapon and led to the tragic loss of Detective Brian Simonsen and the wounding of Sergeant Matthew Gorman," Katz said in a statement. "The jury found the defendant guilty of murder and he will now serve a lengthy time in prison as punishment for his criminal actions. We continue to express our condolences to Detective Simonsen’s family and fellow service members.”

Meanwhile, Ransom pleaded guilty in October to aggravated manslaughter and robbery and was sentenced to 33 years in prison.

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.

"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. "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 said at the time that she 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.

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

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.

Ransom, who has 25 prior arrests including one for impersonating a police officer, was shot eight times on that winter day in 2019.

Copyright NBC New York
Contact Us