Minneapolis officer charged in crash that killed innocent driver during pursuit

·1 min read

A Minneapolis police officer was criminally charged in a July crash that killed an innocent driver while the officer was pursuing another car, prosecutors said Friday.

Officer Brian Cummings, 37, was chasing a stolen vehicle early July 6 at around 90 mph in a residential neighborhood before going against a red light and slamming into a Jeep, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.

Freeman called it "culpable and gross negligence" that ended in the death of driver Leneal Frazier, 40.

"That's tragic. That’s criminal. That's why we charged," Freeman said.

Frazier was the uncle of the teen who recorded the 2020 murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer who was later convicted.

Cummings is charged with second-degree manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide.

His attorney, Tom Plunkett, said Cummings was pursuing a suspect in a "violent carjacking" on a "crime spree," according to The Associated Press.

A criminal complaint said the Kia Sportage was suspected of being stolen and involved in thefts from businesses and that the thefts involved "some limited use of force" but no weapons or injuries.

Cummings had his lights and siren on. The chase occurred around 12:30 a.m. and lasted around 20 blocks. The criminal complaint said that right before entering the intersection, the officer's speed was around 90 mph. Cummings struck Frazier's Jeep at about 78 mph, the complaint said. Frazier had the green light.

An accident reconstruction concluded that "this collision can be attributed to the Defendant for failure to operate his vehicle with due regard for the safety of other motorists," the complaint said.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey promised a review of the police pursuit policy after Frazier was killed.

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