MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minneapolis Police Officer Brian Cummings has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide for a high-speed, squad-involved crash that killed 40-year-old Leneal Frazier. The investigation found the chase initiated by Officer Cummings reached speeds of 100 mph through residential neighborhoods and his squad struck Frazier's Jeep, which was not involved in the pursuit, at 78 mph.
Frazier was driving west on North 41st Avenue on July 6 around 12:30 a.m, on his way to his girlfriend’s house, when Cummings’ squad car, pursuing an armed robbery suspect northbound on Lyndale Avenue North, collided with his vehicle in the intersection. Frazier’s car was pushed into a nearby bus shelter. Frazier died at the hospital a short time later.
A memorial has been set up at Lyndale Avenue North to honor Leneal Frazier. (FOX 9)
MPD squad fatal crash caught on camera
Prosecutor: Officer Cummings ‘deviated from his oath’
"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," Freeman said.
Surveillance video showed the suspect vehicle go through the intersection of North 41st and Lyndale Avenue at a high rate of speed. Cummings’ squad car, which appeared to have its flashing lights on, comes through the intersection a few seconds later, colliding with an uninvolved vehicle that was headed west on North 41st. The impact sent the vehicle careening onto the sidewalk, where it crashed into a bus shelter.
Speeds up to 100 mph in residential neighborhoods
According to the criminal complaint, the chase went for more than 20 blocks through north Minneapolis, including residential neighborhoods. The chase reached speeds of nearly 100 mph, going through multiple stop signs.
When Cummings pursued the Kia northbound on Lyndale Avenue North, and just before reaching the intersection of 41st Avenue North and Lyndale Avenue North, Cummings was driving 90 mph. Prosecutors noted this is a speed that would take approximately 337 feet to come to a complete stop. The posted speed limit in that area is 25 mph.
Accident reconstruction compiled through technology found in Cummings’ squad car and area surveillance footage revealed that, Cummings hit Frazier’s Jeep at roughly 78 mph, the complaint states. Frazier’s Jeep was estimated to be going 25 mph.
The driver a Jeep, Leneal Frazier, died after his vehicle was struck by a Minneapolis police squad car pursuing an armed robbery suspect. (FOX 9)
Accident reconstruction determined the crash was due to Officer Cummings’ "failure to operate his vehicle with due regard for the safety of other motorists."
Cummings’ first court appearance has been scheduled for Nov. 9 in Hennepin County District Court.
Minneapolis police pursuit policy
Minneapolis Police Department policy on continued vehicle pursuits states: "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."
Following the crash, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has said the city will review its police pursuit policy again. The Minneapolis Police Department updated its pursuit policy in 2019 to be more restrictive, including not pursuing suspects for nonviolent offenses or lesser crimes. In light of the Frazier crash, however, Frey said the city will be reviewing that policy again, independent of the investigation.
You can read the complete Minneapolis Police Department policy manual on the city’s website at https://www.minneapolismn.gov/media/-www-content-assets/documents/MPD-Policy-and-Procedure-Manual.pdf. The pursuit policy can be found on page 396.
Call to update pursuit policies
"The pursuit policies of law enforcement agencies across Minnesota are inadequate and do not do enough to protect human life," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman wrote in a memo urging all law enforcement agencies in Minnesota to update their pursuit policies. "From 2013 through 2020, there were 40 reported fatal injuries for people involved in, or affected by, pursuits. This must stop."
Freeman cited the 2020 Uniform Crime Report for Minnesota, which showed there were 3,109 reported pursuit incidents, with 7.88 percent initiated because of a felony offense.
Freeman wrote that pursuit policies must include specific language directing officers to consider risk factors when determining appropriate speed for a pursuit. But policies must also include intersection approach guidance and list tactics to help avoid intersection collisions, such as not assuming drivers will yield to an officer’s right of way. Read the complete memo
Leneal Frazier's family demands justice
Frazier was the uncle of Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed the video of George Floyd’s murder.
"I don’t understand how he didn’t see my father," Leneal's daughter Lanesha Frazier told FOX 9 in the days after the crash. "And my father was an innocent bystander."
"They took the most important person from us and it hurts," said brother Orlando Frazier. "And yes, we want justice. How can this keep going on like this?"
The Frazier family has retained the services of civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who also represents the Floyd family and the family of Daunte Wright.