Queens, NY – The man responsible for the friendly-fire death of a beloved New York Police Department (NYPD) detective in February has claimed that the robbery was just a prank he was filming for YouTube.
Christopher Ransom, 27, gave the New York Daily News a jailhouse interview at Rikers Island and told them he was a “shock value comic” and the Feb. 12 robbery at the T-Mobile store was meant to be a joke.
“It was a prank gone horribly wrong,” Ransom said. "I never meant to hurt anyone or rob anyone... I feel bad for the detective’s family and I hope the sergeant recovers soon.”
NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen was killed by friendly fire while responding to the armed robbery that Ransom is now calling a “prank.”
The incident occurred at a Richmond Hill T-Mobile store just before 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 12, after 42-year-old Det. Simonsen and 34-year-old Sergeant Matthew Gorman responded to a report that an armed suspect came into the store and forced two employees into a back room at gunpoint, The New York Times reported.
The 102nd Precinct detective squad officers were in plainclothes when they arrived at the Atlantic Avenue storefront, and immediately encountered the armed suspect inside the store.
The suspect, a “27-year-old career criminal,” then pointed his handgun at the officers, and charged towards them, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said, according to the New York Post.
The veteran officers opened fire on the suspect, and retreated out of the store.
But as they exited, both officers were shot by other officers who had arrived at the scene.
A total of 40 rounds were fired by eight officers, a police source told the New York Post.
Det. Simonsen was hit in the chest, while Sgt. Gorman was struck in the thigh, The New York Times reported.
“At this hour, this appears to be an absolute tragic case of friendly fire," Commissioner O’Neill said during a press conference the night of the incident.
Det. Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the force, was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Care, where he was pronounced dead, The New York Times reported.
A motorist passing by the scene of the shooting stopped to help Sgt. Gorman, and transported him to the same hospital, Commissioner O’Neill said.
The sergeant was taken into surgery, and is expected to recover from his wounds. He has been with the department for eight years.
Ransom, who was shot several times, was transported to a hospital in Queens and treated before he was transferred to Rikers Island.
Investigators later determined that the weapon Ransom was carrying was a replica handgun.
Ransom and his lookout, Jagger Freeman, were indicted for murder, manslaughter, assault, and robbery in of Det. Simonsen and the wounding of Sgt. Gorman, according to the New York Daily News.
Despite Ransom’s gun being fake, prosecutors charged him under the law that says a participant in a violent felony is responsible for any deaths resulting from the crime, the New York Daily News reported.
“I’m not a monster,” Ransom said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen that night.”
He claimed he had just returned the cash and given the store employees his business card when he walked into the line of fire, the New York Daily News reported.
Freeman, his alleged videographer, fled and was captured a few days later.
Despite Ransom’s assertions, the New York Daily News reported that Ransom had been charged in four prior robberies of cell phone stores.
Police said Freeman helped Ransom with a Feb. 8 robbery at another T-Mobile store.
Court papers said that for that holdup, Ransom and Freeman communicated via cell phone and text messages, and discussed how they were going to split up the $3,000 from the robbery via text, the New York Daily News reported.
Ken Finkelman, attorney for Ransom, said his client suffered from mental health issues and may have been trying to commit suicide-by-cop.
Finkelman told the New York Post said his client was being “overcharged and scapegoated” in an NYPD attempt to cover up the mistakes that led to Det. Simonsen’s death.
“Obviously, procedures were violated, obviously people screwed up,” he said. “One way of distracting from all that is to say it’s all Mr. Ransom’s fault.”
“It just has a Kafkaesque, Soviet Union-type feel to it,” Finkelman railed, adding that his client was being “overcharged and scapegoated” as part of the purported misdirection maneuver.
In addition to his criminal record, Ransom has a strange history with the NYPD that included a 2016 visit to a precinct wearing nothing but a cape and his underwear.
He posted a video to YouTube in which he told officers in the precinct that he was a superhero there to assist them in fighting crime.