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Every few years comes a case that highlights a serious travesty of justice and human rights and challenges the very foundations of American Jurisprudence. The conviction of 25-year-old Jagger Freeman for a 30 year to life sentence, is a case in point. On Feb 14th, 2019 Jagger Freeman was wrongly arrested for the murder of Det. Brian Simonsen. He spent 3.5 years in jail, awaiting trial only to be convicted and sentenced in July 2022 to 30 years up to life in prison for crimes he did not commit. 

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On Feb 12, 2019, Christopher Ransom, entered a mobile shop at Richmond Hill, a Queen’s County neighbourhood, brandishing a toy gun and wearing a ski mask. He was reported by a bystander on a 911 call and several units of the NYPD police, that included detective Brian Simonsen and Sergeant Mathew Gorman, arrived at the place. Within 11 seconds, responding officers fired 40 rounds of bullets at Ransom but accidentally shot Detective Brian Simonsen and Sgt Mathew Gorman. The result - Detective Brian Simonsen was fatally shot in the chest by a fellow officer and succumbed to his injuries at a hospital, whilst Sgt Mathew Gorman was shot in the leg. Despite all the gunshots fired from outside of the shop, there was no exchange of fire as Ransom had a toy gun. He was hit seven times but survived to face the guilty plea hearing later. 

 

Days after the incident Jagger Freeman who was not even present at the scene of the crime was arrested and charged with murdering police officer Brian Simonsen. While Ransom pleaded guilty, Freeman believed the jury would see that he was not at the scene and the death of the police officer was an accident committed by another police officer responding to a robbery in which he did not participate. However, in June 2022, Freeman was found guilty on 13 counts that included grand larceny, second-degree robbery, second-degree murder as per the Felony Murder rule and convicted for 30 years to life imprisonment.

 While the death of a dedicated and decorated detective of NYPD was a devastating outcome of that night, it was an accident committed by a fellow police officer responding to a robbery in which Freeman did not participate; this case needs to be examined under two aspects. 

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First, was Freeman charged wrongly and given a judgement so harsh that was far out of proportion of the crime he allegedly planned? We must not forget that the convicted was not at the scene of the crime and never possessed a firearm. Detective Brian Simonsen was accidentally shot by his fellow police officers and suffered fatal injuries because he had overlooked wearing his bullet proof vest on that day.

 

Second, Is there a need to question the basics of the Felony Murder Rule and repeal it so that justice is served in the most appropriate manner becoming of the oldest democracy in the world?

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Based on the evidence, there is room to declare the previous proceeding a mistrial as the sentencing for a young man of 28 years, father of a seven-year-old daughter, studying and working to make ends meet, being handed down 30-year sentence is in violation of the Eight Amendment. This amendment to the US constitution clearly protects against imposing excessive bail, excessive fines, or cruel and unusual punishments among other things.

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The Main Takeaway

By imposing such a disproportionate sentence on a young man struggling on the fringes of society, are we condemning such men into a life of perpetual criminalisation?

Is not the purpose of law, reform? To review and set right what is fundamentally gone wrong with our society?  Should poor folk of colour trying to survive on a shoestring budget, struggling for respectability through a decent college degree, be given a chance to do just that instead of judging them and pushing them into a perpetual dark hole. Doesn’t Jagger Freeman deserve a second chance at life and the pursuit of happiness?  

Please join us in this demand for Mr. Freeman’s success and thriving, to Free Jagger Freeman, get him a fair trial and give him a second chance at all that is precious in life.

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