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Cop Charged With Manslaughter and Criminal Vehicular Homicide After High-Speed Chase Leads to Innocent Man’s Death

A Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the car crash that killed 40-year-old Leneal Frazier this past July.

On July 6 at about 12:30 a.m, officer Brian Cummings was pursuing a suspect in a stolen vehicle when he crashed into the Jeep that Frazier was driving. The officer was speeding down a residential street reaching speeds near 100 miles per hour when the crash occurred.

The criminal complaint that was filed the day of the crash states that Cummings was pursuing a Kia Sportage that matched the description of a stolen vehicle suspected to be involved in several non-violent thefts from businesses.

The chase went on for more than 20 blocks through north Minneapolis, reaching speeds of almost 100 miles per hour. Cummings followed the Kia through numerous stop signs, red lights, and partially obstructed intersections, the complaint states.

Just before the collision, Frazier’s Jeep was entering the intersection through a green light which gave him the right of way. The stolen vehicle and Cummings both ran the red light at the intersection traveling at nearly 100 mph. The stolen vehicle barely missed Frazier’s Jeep, the complaint says. Cummings’ squad car entered the intersection against the red light and hit Frazier’s Jeep on the driver’s side. Frazier was killed in the collision. Cummings was seriously injured.  

Minneapolis police car pursuit policy states that “officers shall not initiate a pursuit or shall terminate a pursuit in progress if the pursuit poses an unreasonable risk to the officers, the public…” and that officers should “always be aware of the inherent danger to the public and to themselves in vehicle pursuits or emergency responses.”

The policy also states that police car chases should not be initiated unless “the officer knows or has reasonable grounds to believe the suspect has committed a serious and violent felony or gross misdemeanor.”

“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 in a statement. “Officer Cummings’ actions deviated from his oath and his negligence caused the death of Leneal Frazier. These charges are appropriate based on the thorough investigation conducted. I hope the victim’s family and loved ones find some solace in knowing we are doing everything we can to get justice for Mr. Frazier.”

Leneal Frazier was the uncle of Darnella Frazier, whose phone footage of George Floyd’s May 25, 2020, murder at the knee of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin sparked a global cry for police reform.

Shortly after the fatal collision, Darnella Frazier took to Facebook to express her grief. “The police made a bad decision by doing a high-speed chase on a residential road. That bad decision cost my uncle his life,” she wrote.

“We want justice and we got it, and we’re going to keep on fighting until he’s locked up,” said Frazier’s mother, Jacqueline Jackson.

Cummings’ first appearance in court is scheduled to take place in the coming days.

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