Brian Simonsen tribute

NYPD/WCBS 880

‘A Stand Up Good Guy’: Loved Ones Remember NYPD Detective Killed By Friendly Fire

February 20, 2019 - 1:16 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — With a stormy sky above them, thousands of people bid a final farewell to NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen, who was killed by friendly fire last week.

Simonsen was off last Tuesday, but he still responded when the call came in about a robbery at a T-Mobile store in Richmond Hill, Queens. 

A small-time petty thief aimed a fake gun and, in the confusion, a police bullet killed the 19-year veteran of the 102nd Precinct.

“I think there is a part of this that is so traumatic and sad and we’re all crying and grieving. But, then there’s the other part where you get mad and you wonder like, ‘why did this happen,’” said long-time friend Melissa Weir.

The responding officers fired 42 shots in 11 seconds, a stray bullet struck Simonsen in the chest and he was rushed to Jamaica Hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.

Friends on Wednesday told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall that Simonsen was known as “Smiles” to his friends ever since high school and he had a great personality.

“I think Smiles is like— he should have been the mayor. He was the glue and he just loved everyone, he was friends with everyone,” Weir said. “He never had bad blood with anyone, he never had a beef with anybody, he was just a stand up good guy, he really did care about everybody and his friends.”

Simonsen was a "cop's cop," said Congressman Peter King. He was known for his smile and easy going demeanor.

He had a background in social work and psychology. Fellow officers say that helped him make a connection with suspects and they believe that under different circumstances perhaps he would have helped that troubled man who pointed a fake pistol at him, WCBS 880's Sean Adams reports.

Related: 'Best Guy': Friends, Neighbors Remember NYPD Detective

“He always had a grin, he always smiled, he loved everybody,” said Frank Henderson. “It’s been rough. It’s been real rough for me, pretty much for everybody.”

Simonsen was also eulogized by NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, who commended the detective for his dedication. He had commuted 70 miles to and from work daily.

“He spent his entire law enforcement career in the 102, you don't see that too much anymore. The 102 was a sprawling community, which virtually everyone who lives and works there knew him, or had seen him. They liked him and, most importantly, they respected him. He fell in love with his community and the community fell in love with him. He had to have loved it, as the mayor said, 70 miles each way— that's dedication,” O’Neill said.

He added that Simonsen “made tough decisions others are unwilling or unable to do" and announced that he was posthumously promoted to the rank of detective first grade.

Two suspects have been charged with second degree murder, robbery, assault and other charges in the case.

The suspected gunman is 27-year-old "career criminal," Christopher Ransom of Brooklyn. He was also shot multiple times during the robbery. 

Simonsen is survived by his wife Leanne and his mother.

Simonsen will be buried at Jamesport Cemetery near his sister, Melissa, who died in 1992 when she was 13, after being struck by a car.