The Minneapolis police officer who killed the uncle of a key figure surrounding George Floyd’s death is facing up to 20 years in prison after being formally charged for his role in the death.
Minneapolis Police Officer Brian Cummings on Friday was hit with two felony charges stemming from a car crash caused by his high-speed pursuit of a suspect that resulted in a collision with the car that was being driven by Leneal Frazier, 40, who died later from the injuries sustained in the July accident. Frazier is the uncle of Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed Floyd being murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
According to Minneapolis CBS, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Cummings was derelict in his duty when he participated in the high-speed chase.
“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,” Freeman said Friday.
Ben Crump, the renowned civil rights attorney whose services were retained by Frazier’s family, said he was “grateful” for the charges.
“The Frazier family and our legal team are grateful for the charges brought against Brian Cummings for the reckless killing of Leneal Frazier. We commend the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for having the courage to hold law enforcement accountable in this instance,” Crump said in a brief statement emailed to NewsOne. “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.”
According to a model for how to proceed during high-speed chases, Minneapolis police are supposed to consider “the risk to the community created by the pursuit.” It also says “the officer’s decision to continue a pursuit may be overridden by a supervisor at any time.”
“I honestly can’t believe I’m making this post right now…I’m so hurt…nothing feels real,” Darnella Frazier wrote in a Facebook post the night of the crash before adding: “Another black man lost his life in the hands of the police!”
Aside from two department commendations, Cummings has had at least a dozen complaints lodged against him. An investigation by KARE 11 found that Cummings and another officer were previously sued for using a taser on a man with mental illness. The case was later settled for $10,000.
As of Friday afternoon, Cummings had not been fired.