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NYPD still unsure who shot cop in friendly fire incident, source says

The continuing uncertainty over which police gun fired the fatal round means that officers may never know who killed Det. Brian Simonsen, an NYPD spokesman said.

New York Police Department investigators at the scene

New York Police Department investigators at the scene of a friendly fire shooting where Det. Brian Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the force, was killed on Feb. 12. Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

Faced with an “inconclusive” ballistics investigation into the fatal friendly fire death of Det. Brian Simonsen, NYPD officials now face similar uncertainty after a review of video camera images failed to determine which cop fired the shot that killed the Calverton resident, said a law enforcement official familiar with the situation.

Investigators with the NYPD firearms discharge division, the unit which probes all police shootings, believe after reviewing both body camera and surveillance camera images that any one of four or five cops who were on the scene could have been in a position to have fired the solitary shot that killed Simonsen, said the official, who didn’t want to be named.

An examination of the police round recovered from Simonsen’s body led a police spokesman to tell Newsday last week that the result was “inconclusive” as to which police gun fired it. A round that wounded Simonsen’s partner Matthew Gorman in the left leg had not been found, the spokesman added.

“The investigation has been unable to determine which weapon discharged the round, and based on the facts it may never be known,” an NYPD spokesman said Tuesday.

The continuing uncertainty over which police gun fired the fatal round means that the officers, including Gorman, may never know who killed the detective, said the official.

When asked about the investigation’s uncertainty, Ed Mullins, head of the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association, said, “I don’t get any indication that is going to change, I don’t even get a whisper."

Simonsen and Gorman, both in plainclothes, responded the evening of Feb. 12 to a T-Mobile store in Richmond Hill, Queens, which police said was being robbed. Simonsen and Gorman pulled up to the front of the store at almost the same moment as six uniformed officers. Gorman entered the store with two cops and all three retreated back out the door when Christopher Ransom, 27, of Brooklyn, allegedly rushed them waving what turned out to be an imitation handgun, said police.

As Ransom continued to wave the handgun at Simonsen and the other cops, police began firing and over a period of about 11 second expended 42 rounds, deputy Chief Kevin Maloney told reporters a day after the incident. Gorman was wounded in the leg and Ransom suffered about a half dozen non-fatal wounds. Neither Simonsen nor Gorman were wearing protective vests.

Both Ransom and his alleged lookout, Jagger Freeman, 25, of Queens, have been charged with felony murder and other crimes stemming from the robbery, shooting and death of Simonsen, a 19-year NYPD veteran. Their attorneys have denied the allegations against them.

Mullins said that while the NYPD detective bureau and firearms investigation division have been pressing forward with the investigation, it appears that an inconclusive result is likely in Simonsen’s case.

”The problem with video analysis, it can add a benefit, but it is not scientific … like fingerprints or DNA,” said Mullins. “Quite often video doesn’t capture a whole scene.”

After Simonsen’s death, NYPD commissioner James O’Neill said the department was reviewing the tactics used in the incident to see if any changes in procedures were necessary.


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