MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's note: The video above originally aired July 8, 2021.
A Minneapolis police officer stands charged with manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide for his role in a crash that killed an innocent motorist in July.
The charges against Officer Brian Cummings are detailed in a criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court Friday. Prosecutors say Cummings was pursuing the driver of a stolen vehicle early the morning of July 6, reaching speeds near 100 miles per hour for nearly 20 blocks through north Minneapolis, including residential neighborhoods. Eventually, Cummings ran a red light at Lyndale and 41st Avenues North and collided with a Jeep driven by 40-year-old Leneal Frazier.
Frazier died of severe injuries sustained in the crash.
“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,” explained Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman in a released statement.
Accident reconstruction specialists accessed technology installed in Cummings’ squad car and reviewed area surveillance footage to determine the officer hit Frazier’s Jeep at roughly 78 mph, the complaint says.
Frazier’s Jeep was estimated to be going 25 mph as he proceeded through the green light.
Accident reconstruction further determined that the collision "can be attributed to the Defendant for failure to operate his vehicle with due regard for the safety of other motorists,” the release from Freeman's office states.
Cummings’ first appearance will be scheduled in the coming days.
"These charges are appropriate based on the thorough investigation conducted," Freeman concluded. "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.”
Frazier's family has retained nationally-known civil rights attorney Ben Crump, and has vowed to file a lawsuit over his death.
Crump released a statement following news of the Minneapolis officer being charged. “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," Crump said. "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.”