Police Commissioner O'Neill on the Police-involved shooting in the 102 Precinct, Queens

February 12, 2019

Remarks as prepared for Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill

Once again, our hearts are broken in New York City and in the NYPD — because a career criminal put civilian and police lives in jeopardy.

With me here are Mayor de Blasio, First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker, Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison, Chief of Queens South Dave Barrere, Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, President of the Detectives Endowment Association Mike Palladino, NYPD Chief Department Surgeon Dr. Eli Kleiman, William Lynch, Chief Operating Officer here at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, and Chief of Surgery Dr. Ken Fretwell.

Tonight in Queens, on-duty Detective Brian Simonsen was shot and killed while doing his job. He was 42 years old and had 19 years in the NYPD, all of it serving the people who live and work in the 102nd Precinct. Detective Simonsen is married — and I just spoke with his wife and mother a short time ago.

His sergeant, also assigned to the 102 Precinct Detective Squad, was shot one time and is in stable condition here at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.

The information I'm about to tell you is preliminary, just a few hours old, and is subject to change as the circumstances become more clear. At this hour, I will tell you this appears to be an absolutely tragic case of friendly fire.

This evening at 6:10 p.m., two separate 911 callers reported a robbery in progress at a T-Mobile cell phone store located at 91-62 120th Street in Queens. The callers described the suspect as a male armed with a firearm. At least one of the callers said two employees of the store had been forced at gunpoint to the rear of the store. Detective Simonsen and his sergeant were in the area — working an unrelated case at the time — when they heard the call come over the radio. They did not hesitate. They responded immediately and pulled up as Patrol units arrived. Through the windows of the store, the officers did not see anyone inside. The officers then entered the store and immediately saw a man fitting the description of the suspect emerge from the back, pointing at them what appeared to be a handgun. With the suspect advancing toward them, the officers discharged their weapons and retreated out of the store. That was when Detective Simonsen was shot. His fellow officers put him in a marked police car and transported him here, where the trauma staff did their best to try to save him. We thank them for that. They were unable to do so, however. The sergeant, who has 8 1/2 years with the NYPD, was shot one time in the leg. A passerby in a civilian vehicle stopped and helped him into the car and transported him here, also. He is listed in stable condition.

Make no mistake about it — friendly fire aside — it is because of the actions of the suspect that Detective Simonsen is dead.

The suspect, a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident and career criminal was shot multiple times. He was taken by ambulance from the scene to Booth Memorial Hospital in Queens, where he is listed in stable condition. Recovered by the police at the scene was an imitation firearm.

Again, I want to thank all of the staff of Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for the high level of care they always show our police officers. And we've been here all too many times.

Tonight highlights the incredibly brave actions NYPD members perform each day in the name of fighting crime and keeping people safe in every neighborhood. This is an absolute tragedy, the worst outcome any police officer, or family of a police officer, could ever imagine. And the sympathies and prayers of the entire New York City Police Department are with the family and colleagues of Detective Simonsen tonight. And I hope that all New Yorkers understand how difficult a job that of an NYPD officer is.

Read the Police Commissioner's message regarding the death of Det. Brian Simonsen.