25-year-old Jagger Freeman did accompany Christopher Ransom when Ransom robbed a T-Mobile store in Queens, New York. This is true. Freeman was standing across the street when Ransom entered the store brandishing a fake pistol, demanding cash. He was still there on the corner when NYPD arrived on the scene, too, but he fled as soon as he heard the gunshots.
When the police arrived at the store, they saw the gun in Ransom's hand and assumed it to be real. It's hard to tell exactly how many cops showed up, but within 11 seconds, they'd collectively fired 44 bullets. One of the officers was shot in the leg. Another officer, Detective Brian Simonsen, was shot and killed in the friendly fire catastrophe.
Ransom was struck eight times in the melee, and survived the incident, minus a testicle. He was arrested, and ultimately pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Simonsen, as well as other crimes. During his trial, he submitted an affidavit claiming that he had wanted to commit suicide by cop, and that Freeman had nothing to do with his decision to brandish the gun.
But Freeman was eventually apprehended by authorities anyway. And he, too, was charged with the manslaughter of Detective Simonsen, under "felony murder" laws. I think Luke O'Neil at Welcome to Hell World described these felony murder laws perfectly:
"Felony murder" is interesting to me because it's sort of the inverse of "qualified immunity," which is another one of the most maddening aspects of the system I often rail against in here. Qualified immunity ensures exceptionally broad leeway for police to kill and maim, while felony murder makes citizens responsible for deaths they maybe had nothing or very little to do with at all.
Freeman was initially offered a plea bargain of 10 years in prison, but opted to take his chances on trial — presumably reasoning, as one might do, that a jury of his peers wouldn't possibly convict him of manslaughter for standing unarmed across the street as one police officer shot a gun that killed another one. But he was still found guilty; in fact, the presiding judge shamed him from the stand for not taking the plea bargain, saying, "You rejected all attempts to resolve this case and you demanded your trial and you got your trial." Freeman may have even been given a harsher punishment in retaliation for refusing the plea bargain. He'll spend the next three decades in prison for killing a cop … even though he wasn't there, even though someone else was already convicted, and even though the person who actually pulled the trigger was another cop.
Nice law and order ya got there. Be a shame if something happened to it, huh?
The NYPD accidentally shot a fellow officer. A Queens man may spend life in prison for his death [Jake Offenhartz / Gothamist]
Defendants are punished for seeking their right to a trial all the time [Luke O'Neil / Welcome to Hell World]