NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen, who was killed by friendly fire at the scene of an attempted robbery in Queens last Tuesday, was remembered as a dedicated cop and a great friend at his funeral on Long Island Wednesday.
“He had a knack for making you feel like his best friend,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said. “Brian knew how to talk to people and more importantly, he knew how to listen.”
Thousands of police officers from the NYPD and other departments gathered at the Church of St. Rosalie in Hampton Bays to remember Simonsen, who was affectionately known as “Smiles” to his friends and family. Amid the sunlight shining through the stained glass window were the beams of police lights outside.
“Brian was a true friend who never wanted anything in return,” his former partner Ricky Waters said, choking back tears. “I will miss his infectious laughter and the way he lit up a room.”
The 19-year NYPD veteran had two homes, one on Long Island with his wife, Leanne, and the other in Queens at the 102nd Precinct.
“For 19 years, his commitment caused him to drive 70 miles each way to work and home,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Simonsen, 42, who had close to 600 arrests during his time at the NYPD, set an example for others to look up to.
“It was never just a job for him, it was something much more powerful,” de Blasio said.
The mayor shared a story one of Simonsen’s colleagues told him about a time the detective comforted a victim who had just fought off an intruder until her “tears soaked through Brian’s shirt.”
“He was exactly the kind of person” the woman needed at that time, de Blasio added.
Simonsen was so dedicated to the job that he didn’t even have to be working on Feb. 12, the day of the attempted robbery at a T-Mobile store in Richmond Hill. As a union delegate, he had been to a meeting in the morning and was excused from work, but chose to go in anyway, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan has said.
When Simonsen, his sergeant, Matthew Gorman, and other officers arrived at the scene of the robbery, suspect Christopher Ransom charged at them with an imitation pistol, police said.
Officers fired a total of 42 shots, fatally hitting Simonsen in the chest, striking Gorman in the leg and hitting Ransom multiple times. Gorman arrived at the funeral Wednesday in a wheelchair.
The NYPD arrested Ransom and a second man, Jagger Freeman, who is accused of acting as a lookout during the attempted robbery.
O’Neill described both men as “career criminals” and said they are solely responsible for Simonsen’s death.
Simonsen was promoted posthumously to detective first grade by the commissioner.
He is survived by his wife and his mother, Linda. His sister, Melissa, was fatally struck by a car in 1992 when she was 13, and his father, Paul, died less than six months later.