Jurors convicted Jagger Freeman, 28, of felony murder, robbery, and other charges after NYPD officers opened fire, one of them striking Detective Brian Simonsen, 42.
The defendant broke down in tears as police tried to take him out of court on Monday, according to The New York Post.
“For murder though?” Freeman said. “I didn’t do this sh–t.”
But prosecutors in Queens, New York, blamed Freeman and co-defendant Christopher Ransom, 30, for creating the situation in which Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the force, died. They robbed a T-Mobile store in the Richmond Hill neighborhood on Feb. 8, 2019, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office. Ransom had a fake gun and ordered two employees to give up cash and merchandise from the back room, authorities said.
“Ransom was still inside the business when police officers responded to the scene,” prosecutors said. “Ransom pointed his gun – which appeared real – at the police officers, who discharged their weapons in response.”
One of the officers shot Simonsen in the torso.
“Every day I wake up and I still can’t believe it’s true,” widow Leanne Simonsen told WABC in a February 2020 report on Brian’s death.
She remembered her husband in glowing terms.
“He had a smile that lit up the room, and I tell you, people just gravitated towards him,” she said. “I just miss him. I just miss him a ton.”
Sgt. Matthew Gorman survived a wound to the left leg. Ransom, who was shot eight times by police, pleaded guilty in October 2021 to to aggravated manslaughter in the second degree and robbery in the first degree. He is serving a 33-year prison sentence, to be followed by five years of post-release supervision. That left Freeman as the only person to stand trial.
“I honestly thought, with the way the jurors had been out last week and the questions they were asking, that they were gonna find him not guilty of the murder, not guilty of things related to Gorman and to Simonsen,” his attorney Ronald Nir said, according to the Post. “But I did think they would find him guilty of other charges, with regard to the robbery.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz (D) welcomed the verdict.
“The jury has spoken,” she said in a statement. “The defendant’s actions set in motion a terrible chain of events that began with an armed robbery in progress and resulted in the tragic loss of Detective Brian Simonsen as well as Sergeant Matthew Gorman being shot in the leg. Following an eight-week-long trial, a jury found the defendant guilty of murder. We express our condolences to Detective Simonsen’s family and hope today’s verdict brings them a measure of closure.”
NYPD Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell called the case “rock solid.”
“The law is clear, if you commit a violent felony that results in the death of a police officer or someone in the public they protect — it is murder,” she said. “The jury followed the evidence presented and delivered justice for our New York City hero. We are grateful for their service and the work of the prosecutors.”
My comment on today’s murder conviction of Jagger Freeman. pic.twitter.com/OfW6NiCs9T
— Commissioner Sewell (@NYPDPC) June 13, 2022
Freeman was also convicted of a separate cell phone store robbery from Feb. 8, 2019, prosecutors said. Sentencing is scheduled to take place on June 30. Freeman faces up to 40 years to life in prison, prosecutors said.
[Image of Simonsen via New York City Police Department; screenshot of Freeman via WABC]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]