Family of man killed in police pursuit speaks out

The family of Leneal Frazier is speaking out after the 40-year-old father of five was killed when a police car struck his vehicle while pursuing a suspect in a high-speed chase. 

Frazier, who was not involved in the police chase, was killed Tuesday after the collision in Minneapolis. He was the uncle of Darnella Frazier, the teenager who was awarded a special Pulitzer prize for filming the murder of George Floyd.

I hope we get justice because my heart is broke. My soul hurt,” his daughter, Jamie, said in a news conference Friday.

Attorney Jeff Storms, who is representing the family, said they would pursue a lawsuit but did not elaborate further. “Will there be a lawsuit? You betcha,” he said.

“These things will keep happening. Thousands of Black Americans die as the result of high-speed chases, including those as innocent bystanders, as we saw happen to Mr. Frazier here today,” Storms said. “That’s exactly what needs to be investigated and pursued to the fullest extent of the law here.”

The Minneapolis Police Department said officers were in pursuit of a suspect accused of robbery and carjacking with a gun before the fatal crash Tuesday. Police said Frazier was driving north through an intersection when the suspect’s car sped in front of him, moments later, the police car slammed into Frazier’s vehicle. Police said the squad car’s sirens and lights were both on. The suspect is still at large.

The officer, Brian Cummings, sustained a minor wrist injury and is at home on standard critical incident leave, police said. The driver of a third vehicle involved in the crash was transported to the hospital and is recovering at home. 

The light at the intersection did not have Opticon technology, which allows police and first responders to switch light signals in emergency situations, CBS Minneapolis reported.

Death of Leneal Frazier
Jacqueline Frazier, center, mother of Leneal Frazier, is surrounded by friends and family mourn the death of her son on July 7, 2021, in Minneapolis. Leneal Frazier

CBS Minnesota obtained surveillance video that shows Frazier’s car get hit in the middle of the intersection. The momentum pushes both his car and the squad car into a third stopped vehicle nearby and igniting the cars in flames. 

Frazier’s family said they have only seen footage from a few angles of the collision and have not had many of their questions answered by police or city officials. 

“My brother got took away from us for no reason at all. We haven’t even seen my brother body yet,” Orlando said. “My brother was the happiest man in the world. He didn’t deserve what he got.”

On Thursday, Mayor Jacob Frey said the city would review its police pursuit policy in an effort to bring “just and equitable law enforcement,” calling Frazier’s death a “horrific tragedy.”

“Darnella, Leneal’s family, and Minneapolis’ Black community have borne the weight of more trauma over the last year than anyone, let alone any young person, should be expected to endure in a lifetime,” he said.

The city’s current policy says officers have the right to begin the chase of a suspect if they believe a felony has been or is about to be committed by a suspect but must stop if there is an “unreasonable risk to the officer, the public or passengers of the vehicle being pursued.”