A Brooklyn man responsible for a 2019 robbery in Queens that led to the death of NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen pleaded guilty last week to aggravated manslaughter and is expected to be sentenced to 33 years in prison, according to the Queens District Attorney.
Christopher Ransom, 30, also pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery for holding up the T-Mobile store in Richmond Hill with an imitation handgun in February 2019. He pleaded guilty before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder Wednesday. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 17.
“The defendant set in motion a terrible chain of events that began with a robbery and ended in a spray of bullets when Ransom pointed what appeared to be a deadly firearm toward police officers,” DA Melinda Katz said in a statement. “The defendant was repeatedly told to lower his weapon but did not do so.”
Mr. Ransom had been facing a top charge of murder.
Det. Simonsen, a South Jamesport native who lived in Calverton with his wife Leanne, responded to the robbery while conducting surveillance nearby on a separate case and was shot by friendly fire, as was another officer, Sgt. Matthew Gorman, who survived. Det. Simonsen died that night. He was 42.
“We express our condolences once again to Detective Simonsen’s family and hope today brings them a measure of closure,” Ms. Katz said.
Mr. Ransom also pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery for a separate robbery on Feb. 8, 2019. His plea deal includes five years post release supervision after the 33 years.
Mr. Ransom and another co-defendant who served as a lookout arrived at the T-Mobile store on 120th Street shortly after 6 p.m. that night. Mr. Ransom entered the store and displayed a black pistol and ordered two employees to hand over cash and merchandise from the back room of the store, according to the DA. Officers quickly arrived at the scene while Mr. Ransom was still inside and pointed the imitation handgun at the police officers, who fired in response. Seven officers fired shots, totaling 42 rounds, NYPD Deputy Chief Kevin Maloney said in 2019. All the shots fired were outside the store, both to the left and right of the entrance in about 11 seconds.
Det. Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the department who did not have a bulletproof vest on, was struck once in the chest.
Det. Simonsen’s widow assisted the NYPD in the design of a new, slimmer, lightweight vest that could more easily be worn by detectives who were not in a standard uniform. The Simonsen Foundation that was formed to honor the fallen detective’s memory has also provided an Armor Express vest to a Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department K-9 earlier this year. The ballistic vest was specially made for K-9 Reis.
In May, a new plaque that notes how Det. Simonsen “sacrificed his life protecting civilians and fellow officers” was dedicated during a ceremony outside the 102nd Precinct in Queens where Det. Simonsen worked during his career. The plaque is now displayed in the squad room inside a handcrafted wooden shadow box dedicated to Det. Simonsen’s memory.