Community celebrates life of detective
by Jennifer Khedaroo
Jun 05, 2019 | 1234 views | 0 0 comments | 115 115 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s been almost four months since NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen was killed by friendly fire during a robbery in Richmond Hill, but his colleagues and the communities around the 102nd Precinct continue to remember him.

Simonsen, a 19-year veteran on the force, was killed on February 12 while responding to a robbery at the T-Mobile store on Atlantic Avenue.

The suspect, 27-year-old Christopher Ransom, charged at officers with an imitation gun and seven officers fired 42 shots within seconds. Simonsen, caught in the crossfire, was struck by a single bullet in the chest.

Last Friday, a fundraising event and block party was held at Austin’s Ale House in Kew Gardens in celebration of Simonsen’s life.

Johanna Cassidy, an employee at Austin’s Ale House, and John Sullivan of the 102nd Precinct co-hosted the event along with the Detective Brian “Smiles” Simonsen Memorial Foundation.

Shortly after Simonsen’s death, Cassidy reached out to Sullivan about having an event in Simonsen’s memory.

“This was Brian’s bar, , this is where it should be done,” Sullivan said. “I have to give Johanna a lot of credit because it was all her idea, and all of the people who were close with him at the 102nd were all involved in this.”

Cassidy, who moved to the United States in 1994, grew close to the officers and staff from the 102nd Precinct over the years.

“I didn’t have my green card at the beginning, so it was very scary to meet cops who would come in for lunch or after work, but I could not believe just how nice they were because in Northern Ireland, they’re not as nice,” Cassidy said. “These guys are nice, friendly and helpful.

If you needed a ride home, they’d give you a ride home,” she added. “If your air conditioner was broken, they’d know a guy who could fix it.

Cassidy, who has been working at Austin’s Ale House for nearly 25 years, knew Simonsen for years. Simonsen stopped by the pub on the Thursday night before he died.

When Simonsen passed, she noticed the demeanor of some of Simonsen’s colleagues had completely changed.

“Guys who had the liveliest personalities were just deflated and it broke my heart to see it,” she said. “My heart just went out to these guys.”

After seeing so many affected by Simonsen’s death, Cassidy and Austin’s Ale House decided to host the event to celebrate his life as well as raise spirits.

“There was a big fanfare at the time with the funeral and the whole thing, but after that they have to keep on going back to work,” said Cassidy.

The event featured live music from local band Austin’s Power. Band member Danny Middleton is a retired cop from the 102nd Precinct who worked with Simonsen.

Sullivan, who also worked closely with Simonsen, helped Cassidy in obtaining the correct permits and organizing the event.

Hundreds of people from precincts across the city were joined by Nassau and Suffolk county police departments, court officers and representatives from various agencies.

Every dollar raised at the event, from tickets to sponsors to raffles, was donated.

In a similar event held in Long Island in mid-May, the foundation raised more than $25,000 for student scholarships.

“It’s just nice to see everyone coming together for something good,” Cassidy said.

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