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Man charged with Simonsen murder seeks release from jail over COVID-19 concerns

The NYPD detectives’ union is seeking to stop a request by legal aid lawyers for the temporary release over fears of the coronavirus for a man charged in the murder of local NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen. 

The Detectives Endowment Association sent a letter to a Queens Supreme Court Judge in advance of a hearing being held Wednesday on the possible release of Christopher Ransom, calling him a flight risk and a “danger to the community as a whole.”

Mr. Simonsen’s widow, Leanne, said Tuesday evening that she was informed by the union that a second man charged in the case, Jagger Freeman, 26, was denied release today and she prays that Mr. Ransom, 29, is also denied. Mr. Freeman was said to have served as lookout as Mr. Ransom committed a robbery on the evening Det. Simonsen was killed.

“I find it unbelievable that this is even being considered,” Ms. Simonsen said. “They both made a choice that night and you suffer the consequences of what happens.”

The detectives’ union strongly urged the judge to stop the release.

“These attempts to use the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to gain a benefit, namely their unjustified release, only further demonstrates the willingness of these two individuals to put their own interests above those in society,” wrote union president Paul DiGiacomo.

The Legal Aid Society told The New York Post they believe Mr. Ransom, who is being housed on Rikers Island, is at “grave risk should he contact COVID-19 due to ongoing health issues that he currently suffers.”

But Mr. DiGiacomo said the attorneys failed to outline any specific health concerns and the request “is merely another effort to avoid responsibility for their role in the murder of Detective Simonsen, who worked valiantly every day of his 18-year decorated career to keep New Yorkers safe from people like Ransom and Freeman.”

Detective Brian Simonsen in his NYPD photo on display in his hometown. (File photo)

Det. Simonsen, 42, of Calverton and a fellow detective were working an unrelated case nearby when they responded to a call of a possible armed robbery at a T-Mobile store in Richmond Hill, Queens shortly after 6 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2019.

Officers at first did not see anyone inside through the window of the store. As they entered, someone emerged from the back fitting the description of the suspect, who pointed what appeared to be a handgun. The suspect advanced toward them and the officers fired, former New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said at the time. Det. Simonsen was struck once in the chest by friendly fire, police said. Mr. Ransom’s firearm turned out to be a realistic looking fake handgun.

Mr. Ransom and Mr. Freeman were arrested in the days that followed and charged with murder and other violent felonies. They were remanded without bail.

Ms. Simonsen said she hopes the men remain behind bars permanently.

“I have to deal with not having Brian every day and it doesn’t get any easier,” she said. “Keeping them behind bars, hopefully for life, serves some justice for Brian.”

Det. Simonsen was a native of Jamesport and a 1995 graduate of Riverhead High School.

Similar bail hearings have been held for inmates across New York in recent weeks. Convicted Riverhead drug dealer Terrill Latney was among the inmates to make such a request, but his release was denied by a federal judge last month.

The bail hearing requested for Mr. Ransom will be held in Queens Supreme Court Wednesday.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated shortly after publishing to reflect the outcome of Mr. Freeman’s hearing and comments from Ms. Simonsen.