The widow of slain NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen of Calverton said she hopes his memory endures at the 102nd Precinct in Queens where he worked much of his 19 years on the job — "not so much how he died but how he lived."
His nickname, "Smiles." His family on the force and on Long Island. The barbecues, Wiffle ball games, pool parties. His community on Long Island. His beverage of choice.
"I’m just a girl who misses and loves my husband and I just want his memory out there — forever. So have a Bud Light today," Leanne said with a laugh, addressing a gathering Thursday afternoon outside the precinct where a plaque was dedicated to Simonsen, who was 42 when he died.
Simonsen was mistakenly killed by another cop on the night of Feb. 12, 2019, as he and seven officers were responding to the attempted robbery of a Richmond Hill, Queens, T-Mobile store, according to the police account.
Someone had spotted a man with a pistol forcing employees into the store’s rear office. Within moments, Christopher Ransom, then 27, came out and aimed what wound up being a fake gun at the cops, twitching it as if firing, police said. The police opened fire; both Ransom and Simonsen were struck in the fusillade; only Ransom survived.
Leanne said her husband's death was "the worst, worst day of my life." But, she said Thursday, "things are getting better now."
Ransom is jailed without bail, charged with felony murder — the crime under New York law in which a person committing a felony can be charged with murder if a person dies during the commission of that underlying crime. The case is due back in court June 29.
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and others joined the ceremony at the precinct.
"Leanne, for years to come, we tell Brian’s story," Shea said at the ceremony. "We talk about what he meant to this community, but more importantly, what he meant to you and what he meant to his family, and what he meant to his blue family, and how he lived his life, and how he impacted people. I think of the tragic night two years ago in February when we lost Brian."
De Blasio said Simonsen "needs to be a part of the permanent memory of New York City." The mayor talked about the cop’s relationships with his colleagues and family.
"The nickname ‘Smiles,’ he made people laugh, he made people feel something. He lived life to the fullest that we know. Left it all on the playing field," de Blasio said.
Leanne elicited laughter — and applause — from those gathered for the plaque dedication as she thanked de Blasio for joining.
"You have the best police department in the world," she said, "so we have to talk about that raise again."