Thousands of police officers from across the country lined the streets of Hampton Bays on Wednesday to salute fallen New York City police Det. Brian Simonsen at his funeral, where he was remembered for his dedication.
The 42-year-old man was a member of the NYPD’s 102nd precinct detective squad, where he worked his entire 19 years on the job, which NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill noted is a rarity these days. Simonsen drove 140 miles round trip from his home in Calverton to work in Queens.
“Brian was the one you were grateful to see arrive at the scene,” O’Neill said during the Catholic funeral mass at the Church of Saint Rosalie. “He had a knack for making people feel like his best friend … Brian knew how to talk to people, and more importantly, he knew how to listen.”
High-ranking elected officials and dignitaries turned out to show their respects, as did members of the community, who lined the streets to say goodbye to the detective as his procession slowly rolled down Montauk Highway before he was taken to Jamesport Cemetery, where he was laid to rest beside his sister and father.
“All of us who came to know Brian have come to understand how exceptional he truly was,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “He was devoted to his precinct.”
Simonsen, who made 600 arrests during his career, was fatally struck by friendly fire at the scene of a robbery in Queens last week. NYPD officers responding to a robbery at a T-Mobile store on Atlantic Avenue in Richmond Hill shot Simonsen and his partner, Sgt. Matthew Gorman, at 6:24 p.m. Feb. 12, police said. Simonsen sustained a gunshot wound to the chest that proved fatal. The sergeant, a Seaford resident, was hit in the leg and was treated at Jamaica Hospital.
The alleged robber, 27-year-old career criminal Christopher Ransom, and his accused lookout, 25-year-old Jagger Freeman, were charged with murder, robbery, assault, and weapons possession.
Simonsen’s cousin, fellow NYPD officer Sean Peterson, said it was “the proudest day of our lives” when they fulfilled their childhood dreams of becoming sworn officers.
“He died doing what he loved,” Peterson said. Noting that Simonsen was known for living life to its fullest, Peterson remembered his cousin and colleague with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln: “It’s not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years.”