Former Minneapolis officer pleads guilty to charges related to fatal pursuit crash

Former Minneapolis officer pleads guilty to charges related to deadly crash

Former Minneapolis officer pleads guilty to charges related to deadly crash

Brian Cummings, the former Minneapolis police officer involved in a 2021 on-duty fatal crash, has pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular homicide.

Court documents show Cummings was charged with second-degree manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide in October of 2021 after crashing his squad car into a vehicle during a chase earlier in the year, causing the death of 40-year-old Leneal Frazier.

His sentencing is set for June 22. A sentencing agreement would put Cummings on probation for three to five years and have him serve up to one year in the county workhouse, according to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Reporter Eric Chaloux. If he violated the terms of his probation, Cummings could then face up to four years in prison, the agreement states.

The manslaughter charge would be dismissed under the terms of the deal.

RELATED: Minneapolis police officer charged in July crash that killed Leneal Frazier

Frazier’s family and friends filled several rows in the courtroom Thursday for Cummings’ plea hearing.

Frazier, a father of six, was caught in a high-speed chase in north Minneapolis in July of 2021.

Surveillance video shows an unknown fleeing suspect just missed Frazier as he blew through the intersection of North Lyndale and 41st Avenues at close to 100 mph. The officer followed seconds later and hit Frazier’s Jeep on the driver’s side at the very moment he entered the roadway.

According to the criminal complaint, on the day of the crash, Cummings saw a Kia Sportage matching the description of a stolen vehicle suspected to be involved in several non-violent thefts from businesses. The officer attempted to stop the vehicle but was unable to do so. The driver of the Kia sped off, and Cummings pursued the vehicle in his marked squad car with sirens and lights activated, the complaint says.

The chase then continued for more than 20 blocks through north Minneapolis, including through residential neighborhoods.

At high speeds — at or approaching 100 mph — Cummings followed the Kia through numerous stop signs, red lights and partially obstructed intersections, many of which blocked the view of approaching vehicles, the complaint states. While he 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 at 90 mph. According to the complaint, at that speed, it takes about 337 feet to come to a complete stop, necessary to avoid any crashes or incidents.

The speed limit in the area is 25 mph.

When asked by his lawyer in front of the judge if his speeds were “dangerous,” Cummings replied, “yes.” He didn’t answer any questions as he left court.

“I just cried,” Richard Frazier, Leneal’s brother, said of Cummings’ answer in court. “It was hard, it was hard to hear that. In my mind it was like he didn’t care, that’s how I took it.”

“Today is hard but I mean, we are happy we got some justice, something is better than nothing, at this point nothing brings my brother back,” he added.

Frazier was the uncle of Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded the viral video of George Floyd‘s death.

“My thoughts are with Leneal Frazier’s family as they process this admission of guilt and this step toward accountability,” Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in a statement Thursday. “The reckless driving conduct admitted today is not representative of the many men and women in law enforcement who act and drive responsibly with respect for the safety of our community members. We will have more to say after Mr. Frazier’s family has an opportunity to speak about the impact of their loss at sentencing.”

RELATED: Rare charges against MPD officer reignite debate on high-speed chases