Recorded on video crashing into an innocent man’s vehicle during a police chase and causing his death, a Minneapolis police officer was recently charged with second degree manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide.
Around 12:30 a.m. on July 6, Minneapolis Police Officer Brian Cummings was pursuing a stolen vehicle that was recorded on a surveillance video running a red light. Driving to his girlfriend’s house, Leneal Frazier had a green light and drove his Jeep into the intersection when Officer Cummings ran the red light and slammed his patrol car into Frazier’s Jeep.
In the video, both vehicles burst into flames and collided into a third vehicle stopped at the red light. All three vehicles slammed into a bus stop, which immediately collapsed.
According to the criminal complaint, the police pursuit reached speeds of nearly 100 mph in an area with a 25 mph speed limit. A reconstruction of the accident determined that Cummings was driving at nearly 80 mph when he crashed into Frazier, who was driving around 25 mph.
Frazier died at the scene from multiple blunt force injuries, while the other innocent driver was treated at a local hospital. Cummings was briefly hospitalized for a wrist injury and placed on standard critical incident leave.
The suspect in the stolen vehicle remains at large.
On Friday, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced that Cummings has been charged with felony counts of second degree manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide.
“Police are supposed to protect and serve citizens, and to act in a manner consistent with their sworn oath to do so. Officer Cummings’ actions deviated from his oath and his negligence caused the death of Leneal Frazier,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. “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.”
“The Frazier family and our legal team are grateful for the charges brought against Brian Cummings for the reckless killing of Leneal Frazier,” Ben Crump, an attorney representing Frazier’s family, stated in a press release. “We commend the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for having the courage to hold law enforcement accountable in this instance. No innocent civilian should ever lose their life because of unwarranted high-speed chases in residential neighborhoods. This case shines a light on how far we have to go in the pursuit of safe and just policing in America. High-speed pursuit policies in Minneapolis and across America must be better written and stringently enforced to protect innocent civilians. This is only the first step in getting full justice for the Frazier family in this tragic and preventable loss.”
Both charges against Cummings carry a presumptive prison sentence of four years under state sentencing guidelines. Jail records show he was released on his own recognizance without bail required and has a hearing set for November 9.