A 37-year-old Minneapolis police officer has been charged with manslaughter and vehicular homicide after killing an innocent man while chasing another vehicle. Officer Brian Cummings was found guilty of the fatal crash that killed 40-year-old Leneal Frazier who died after Cummings hit his car at an intersection.
According to investigators, Cummings responded to a stolen vehicle report and went after a black Kia Sportage that matched the description of the stolen vehicle. The policeman flagged the car to stop but gave a chase when the vehicle refused to stop. Cummings activated the sirens and lights of his squad car as he chased the vehicle for more than 20 blocks and through residential neighborhoods.
The intersection where the accident occurred has a maximum speed limit of 25 mph, but Cummings sped on at about 90 mph. There was a red light but the Kia ran through it at roughly 100 mph and narrowly missed Frazier who just moved his car when the lights turned green. Cummings also attempted to run through the red light but hit Frazier fatally after the light changed to green.
Frazier died shortly after a nearby hospital. Prosecutors said his death “can be attributed to the defendant for failure to operate his vehicle with due regard for the safety of other motorists.” The Hennepin County District Attorneys’ office said Cummings was careless and ought not to have given a chase or at the high speed he did.
“Police are supposed to protect and serve citizens, and to act in a manner consistent with their sworn oath to do so,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. “Officer Cummings’ actions deviated from his oath and his negligence caused the death of Leneal Frazier.”
The Minneapolis police pursuit policy, which is scheduled for review by Mayor Jacob Frey, states that officers shall not pursue any vehicle when it is apparent that the lives of occupants or other road users are at risk.
“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, or passengers of the vehicle being pursued who may be unwilling participants,” the pursuit police states.
Frazier’s family lawyers, Ben Crump and Jeff Storms said they are happy that the city will be prosecuting Cummings for killing their client in the most careless manner.
“The Frazier family and our legal team are grateful for the charges brought against Brian Cummings for the reckless killing of Leneal Frazier,” they said. “We commend the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for having the courage to hold law enforcement accountable in this instance. No innocent civilians should ever lose their life because of unwarranted high-speed chases in residential neighborhoods.”
Frazier was the uncle of Darnella Frazier, the woman who used her smartphone to do a video recording of Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck and killing him in 2020. Her video spurred the global protests that condemned racial injustice and racial profiling in America and around the world.