Exclusive: Partner, colleagues still grieving detective fatally shot in Queens robbery

Posted at 9:26 PM, May 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-08 21:26:46-04

It's been nearly three months since the friendly fire death of NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen.

The 42-year-old was killed after seven of this fellow officers fired a total of 42 rounds during a chaotic scene outside a Queens T-Mobile store, and the emotions of losing an officers are still raw.

A 911 call came in about a man with a gun robbing the cellphone store. Simonsen's partner, Det. Richard Waters, did not respond to the call. He was working on another case and remembers Simonsen's last words to him.

"He said, 'I will be back in 45 minutes and we'll figure out what to eat,' and that was it. I never saw him again," Waters told PIX11 News.

Waters is holding on to his memories of his dear friend. "He was larger than life. A good guy," he said.

Chilling radio calls were all that other responding officers heard that night, without having a clue what was happening inside the T-Mobile store. Chief Joseph Kenny, head of Detectives Borough Queens South, was one of them. "[The] 911 call stated there was a man with a gun, that he was wearing a mask," Kenny recalled.

Police said the man with the gun was Christopher Ransom and that the gun turned out to be a fake. "It was, in fact, a realist-looking imitation pistol," Chief Kenny said.

Seven officers fired 42 shots in 11 seconds that night, and Simonsen was hit by a single bullet to his chest — a victim of friendly fire. A tragedy the department is still looking into, to see how these chain of events happened and how they could be avoided in the future.

"Nobody knew it was an imitation pistol until after the fact," said Chief Kenny.  We may never know which officer fired the fatal shot, but to Simonsen's family, that's not what is most important.

"My main concern is that his his wife is taken care of," said Waters, Simonsen's partner. "and her main concern is that nobody forgets about Brian."

Forgetting Detective Simonsen, who had almost 19 years on the job, is almost impossible. His legacy lives on in the community where he served, from his favorite deli to the community support.

Lt. Gregory LeRoy said "he was the kind of officer everyone wanted to work with." When Lt. LeRoy asked Simonsen to step in a talk to new recruits, "he must of spent three hours with them and they hung on his every word," he said.

In an ironic twist, when Simonsen's fellow detectives were executing the search warrant shortly after the shooting, "one of the residents of the house must have hit pause on the television and when we all ran past...  Brian's picture was on an 80-inch flatscreen TV," Chief Kelly remembered. "So it was like he was with us."