Charges dismissed against man allegedly involved in MPD chase that killed Leneal Frazier
The charges against a 20-year-old man who allegedly led a Minneapolis police officer on a chase that spanned 20 blocks and killed 40-year-old Leneal Frazier have been dismissed, according to court documents.
A court document signed by Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty on Friday attributed the dismissal to “an inability to prove all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt at this time.”
James Jeremiah Jones-Drain was initially charged with one count of fleeing a peace officer which resulted in death and two counts of theft. Court records show all those charges were dismissed Friday.
In July 2021 at about 12:30 a.m., former Minneapolis police officer Brian Cummings was pursuing the driver of a stolen vehicle in north Minneapolis when his marked squad car slammed into the driver’s side of Frazier’s Jeep, hitting it at nearly 80 miles per hour. Injuries Frazier sustained as a result of the crash were the cause of his death, according to a criminal complaint.
Leneal Frazier was also the uncle of Darnella Frazier, who was a teenager when she recorded George Floyd’s murder in 2020.
Cummings pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular homicide as a result of the crash, which former Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said marked the first time in his tenure that a Minneapolis police officer has been criminally charged in the aftermath of a deadly chase.
Cummings was sentenced in Hennepin County Court on July 12 to 270 days in the Hennepin County workhouse, court records show.
Thomas Plunkett, attorney for Cummings, said in an email, “Mr. Cummings risked his life many times to protect people. He sits in jail. Mr. Jones-Drain, a gun-toting thief, who bears responsibility for the death of Leneal Frasier, and stole from the innocent gets a break? Minneapolis is a better place to be a criminal than a law enforcement officer.”
Nicholas Kimball, spokesperson for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, responded in an email, “Mr. Plunkett’s client sits in jail because he voluntarily pled guilty to criminal vehicular homicide and admitted under oath, while represented by Mr. Plunkett, to needlessly driving in a grossly negligent manner at a speed of almost 100 mph in a residential area, causing the unfortunate death of Mr. Frazier. It is also worth noting that Mr. Cummings admitted he had legitimate alternatives to his criminal conduct and that he caused excessive danger to the general public with his actions. If his admitted conduct had not been so far from the norm, he would not have been charged, pled guilty, or been convicted.”
The attorney for the Frazier family, Jeff Storms, said in a statement, “The family of Leneal Frazier is deeply disappointed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s decision to dismiss the charges against James Jeremiah Jones-Drain. Leneal was a valued and loved member of his family. His family continues to deeply grieve and mourn his absence. Officer Cummings serving a few months in local confinement as the sole criminal accountability for Leneal’s death is not justice for Leneal and his family.”
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty’s office for comment.
ABC News contributed to this story.