NYC man sentenced to 33 years in friendly-fire death of NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen

KEW GARDENS, Queens (WABC) -- A New York City man who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a friendly-fire shooting that claimed the life of an NYPD officer was sentenced Wednesday to 33 years in prison.

Christopher Ransom set in motion what prosecutors called a "terrible chain of events" during a 2019 Queens cell phone store robbery that culminated with the death of Detective Brian Simonsen.

The courtroom in Kew Gardens was packed wall to wall with officers who turned out to support the Simonsen family and his widow, who read a victim impact statement at the hearing.

"We had so many plans, so much living to do together," Leanne Simonsen said. "You robbed us of this. You took my joy. You took my life right along with his that night."

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Ransom, who pleaded guilty last month to aggravated manslaughter and robbery, also spoke, acknowledging in front of dozens of police officers that he set off the entire deadly chain of events.

"I'm sorry you did not have more time with your husband because of my actions," he said. "I never met the man, but from what I heard, the city has lost a true hero."

Ransom and an accomplice, Jagger Freeman, used a fake gun to hold up the store in Richmond Hill on February 12, 2019.

When police arrived, Ransom ran towards them pointing the fake weapon.

Officers fired their own weapons, authorities said, and the 42-year-old Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the force, was struck in the chest and killed.

Another officer, Sergeant Matthew Gorman, injured in his leg.

"My hope is that the family of Detective Brian Simonsen may finally have some closure with the sentencing of this defendant," Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. "His lawless, selfish behavior set the terrible events of that day in motion. He committed one of several robberies and terrified the employees of that cell phone store before drawing the fire of police. The heartbreaking result was the loss Detective Simonsen and the injury of Sergeant Matthew Gorman."

Ransom was shot eight times but survived.

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He also pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery for a separate robbery on February 8, 2019.

Ransom's sentence is to be followed by five years post release supervision.

The Legal Aid Society, which represented Ransom, released the following statement after the sentencing:

"With this plea agreement, our client, Christopher Ransom, takes full responsibility for his actions. The resolution of the case, however, should not detract from the immense physical and emotional pain that he continues to endure as a result of injuries sustained in the NYPD's friendly fire shootout. The police fired 42 shots in 11 seconds that night, shooting Mr. Ransom eight times. He will carry physical scars and emotional trauma from this event for the rest of his life. Despite this, Mr. Ransom is committed towards seeking rehabilitation and redemption. We hope that the NYPD also takes this opportunity to reexamine their own procedures and training so that a tragedy like this never happens again."

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