Minneapolis police officer Brian Cummings is facing multiple charges, including one count of criminal vehicular homicide, in connection with a July high-speed chase that killed Leneal Frazier. Frazier was an uncle of Darnella Frazier, the young girl who captured the killing of George Floyd on her cellphone.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said on Friday, Oct. 22, Cummings is also facing one count of second-degree manslaughter, which is punishable by up to ten years in prison or a fine of up to $20,000.
On July 6, Frazier had been driving westbound through an intersection when Cummings, chasing a carjacking suspect who had blown through the red light at the crossing in a Kia Sportage at about 100 mph, followed the northbound suspect and struck the driver’s side of Frazier’s Jeep at about 78 mph.
The chase had blown past several stop signs, red lights and partially obstructed intersections for more than 20 blocks before Frazier was struck.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office listed in a news release that Frazier “was the driver of a vehicle that was struck by another vehicle” and that his “cause of death is multiple blunt force injuries.”
“Police are supposed to protect and serve citizens, and to act in a manner consistent with their sworn oath to do so,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said. “Officer Cummings’ actions deviated from his oath and his negligence caused the death of Leneal Frazier.”
Although the officer’s sirens and lights were on, Freeman noted in his statement that Cummings drove well past the residential speed limit of 25 mph. The 37-year-old Cummings joined MPD in 2008 and has no less than 15 civilian complaints in his file, the Star Tribune reports.
The Frazier family is being represented by lawyers Jeff Storms and Ben Crump, who applauded the district attorney’s office for bringing charges against Cummings.
“We commend the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for having the courage to hold law enforcement accountable in this instance,” the family said through their lawyers in a statement following the announcement. “No innocent civilian should ever lose their life because of unwarranted high-speed chases in residential neighborhoods.”
Crump pointed out that “This case shines a light on how far we have to go in the pursuit of safe and just policing in America.” He added, “High-speed pursuit policies in Minneapolis and across America must be better written and stringently enforced to protect innocent civilians.”
At the time of the incident, Darnella, who was recognized by the Pulitzer Prize Board last June, described the crash as “the most horrible news” in a Facebook post. “MINNEAPOLIS police killed my uncle. MY uncle…another black man lost his life in the hands of police!”