Thousands of NYPD officers, from beat cops to top brass, packed a Long Island church Wednesday to say a final farewell to Detective Brian Simonsen, who was killed last week by friendly fire while responding to a Queens robbery.
While a phalanx of police and city officials rallied around Simonsen’s grief-racked widow and mother inside the Church of St. Rosalie in Hampton Bays, an overflow crowd of dress-blue-clad cops spilled outside, standing tall against a cold February morning made all the more bitter by the cruel irony that their brother was cut down by an NYPD bullet.
Before the altar of the church, just a short drive from Simonsen’s hometown of Riverside, the fallen hero’s body lay in a closed casket, draped with an ivory cloth quartered by a brightly colored cross.
Just behind the casket was a drawn portrait of Simonsen — whose nickname was “Smiles” — mounted on an easel.
“He did his job to the last second of his life,” said Msgr. David Cassato, one of two NYPD chaplains overseeing the service, as Mayor de Blasio and department Commissioner James O’Neill looked on.
Simonsen, 42, wasn’t supposed to be working Feb. 12. But he spent the morning at a Detectives’ Endowment Association meeting, before trying again to crack a nagging robbery case ahead of an upcoming Compstat meeting.
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