Weeks after a former Minneapolis police officer was sentenced to the workhouse for nine months after being prosecuted for crashing into a vehicle during a pursuit of a stolen vehicle that resulted in the death of an uninvolved motorist, charges were dismissed by the Hennepin County attorney against the suspected driver of the stolen vehicle.
A felony charge of fleeing police in a motor vehicle that results in death was dismissed Friday against James Jeremiah Jones-Drain, 20, as were felony charges of theft of a motor vehicle and theft of property in the July 6, 2021, crash that resulted in the death of 40-year-old Leneal Frazier.
A brief court filing signed by Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty states the reason for dismissal as “an inability to prove all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt at this time.”
According to the charges against Jones-Drain related to the incident, now jailed former officer Brian Cummings noticed a black Kia Sportage with no front plate that matched the description of a vehicle taken from a woman in a carjacking at Target on East Lake Street on July 3, 2021. Cummings performed a U-turn to follow the vehicle and a pursuit ensued from the area of 18th and Lyndale Avenue North. The suspect vehicle with a yellow dealer rear tag ran several red lights and stop signs, and the pursuit reached speeds of 100 mph. At the intersection of 41st and Lyndale Avenue North, the suspect vehicle ran another red light, barely missing Frazier’s Jeep. Cummings saw the Jeep and began to brake, skidding 79 feet before impacting the Jeep and causing it to crash into a garbage can, bus shelter, light pole, and tree. Frazier was transported to the hospital and died a short time later.
One person died in this squad-involved crash.
The squad was responding to the pursuit of the robbery/carjacking suspects which was occurring nearby (we posted).
The pursuit was terminated and the suspects were not apprehended.
— CrimeWatchMpls (@CrimeWatchMpls) July 6, 2021
Jones-Drain allegedly escaped in the stolen vehicle following the crash and wasn’t arrested until 18 months later in January 2023. He has remained in custody since his arrest and is facing a raft of felony charges in at least 12 other cases, including several separate robberies, some of which occurred at businesses in the hours prior to the fatal pursuit crash; several other robberies are alleged to have been committed in the months subsequent to the crash. Jones-Drain was also found in possession of a firearm during his arrest in January and has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in that case.
Charges in the case that was dismissed by Moriarty on Friday state that investigators obtained a search warrant for Jones-Drain’s phone records from the time of the crash for its historical cellular location data. The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cellular Analysis Survey Team analyzed the data and determined that on July 6, 2021, Jones-Drain’s phone was in areas consistent with the high-speed chase and crash that resulted in the death of Frazier and injuries to a victim in another vehicle and Cummings, who sustained a broken wrist in the incident.
The complaint also states that through video surveillance later obtained by investigators, police were able to identify Jones-Drain and his accomplice as the perpetrators in the July 3, 2021, Target parking lot carjacking of the Kia with a dealer tag.
Cummings pled guilty under the terms of a plea deal to a charge of criminal vehicular homicide and is scheduled for release from the workhouse in January.
Cummings’ attorney Thomas Plunkett said in an email statement to media:
“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.”
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