Former Minneapolis police officer Brian Cummings was sentenced Wednesday to nine months in the Hennepin County Adult Correctional Facility after pleading guilty to criminal vehicular homicide in the 2021 death of Leneal Frazier.
Under a guilty plea reached in April, a second charge of second-degree manslaughter was dismissed.
Cummings was pursuing a stolen Kia on July 6, 2021, when he entered an intersection “on a red light at an extraordinarily high rate of speed” and struck Frazier’s vehicle, causing his death.
“Today’s sentencing sends an important message that every person in our county will be held accountable for their actions when they break the law. Mr. Cummings has acknowledged he had other options that day and should not have continued the pursuit through city streets at such high speeds, causing excessive danger to others on the road. The criminally-negligent driving to which Mr. Cummings admitted will not be tolerated, and he has now been held accountable in the criminal legal system,” Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said in a statement.
Cummings will serve three years of probation after leaving the workhouse.
His attorneys argued in court filings that Cummings’ conduct “cannot be viewed in a vacuum,” asking for a sentence of probation and community service.
“The fact of the matter is that the driver of the stolen vehicle Cummings was pursuing set the stage for the fatal crash. The State cannot deny that Mr. [James] Jones-Drain, the identified driver of the Kia Sportage, shares responsibility for Mr. Frazier’s death,” they wrote.
Jones-Drain is facing charges of auto theft and fleeing a police officer-resulting in death in connection to the incident. He’s accused of carjacking the Kia three days prior to the crash.
“Alarmingly, Mr. Jones-Drain has been identified as a suspect in 29 robberies,” Cummings’ attorneys said in court documents, including multiple robberies in Minneapolis and Robbinsdale in the hours leading up to the crash.
“In Mr. Jones-Drain’s case, the State has identified five crimes of violence committed by Jones-Drain on July 5, 2021, hours before fleeing from Officer Cummings. In short, Officer Cummings was not off base or remiss in his pursuit of the vehicle that had been identified as taken in a strong-arm carjacking and involved in business robberies by reportedly armed suspects on July 5th in Minneapolis,” they wrote.
Cummings’ attorneys also spoke to his daily struggle with “feelings of guilt and remorse.”
“Mr. Cummings has already experienced many punitive consequences as a result of his crime. He sustained injuries in the collision which have never entirely healed. He lost his career in law enforcement and will be limited in future career opportunities. His driving privileges in this state have been revoked for 3653 days, i.e., ten years. (As a primary caretaker of his two young sons, Mr. Cummings now transports his children to school and other events by bicycle.) The gravest punishment of all, perhaps, is the toll his actions have had on his mental health and stability. Brian Cummings has punished himself since July 2021 to the detriment of his health and the well-being of his family. He struggles with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress syndrome,” his attorneys said.
Cummings’ sentence was lower than the year-long sentence sought by Moriarty’s office.
“My thoughts are with Leneal Frazier’s family, and I am hopeful today’s sentencing helps them as they go forward without him,” Moriarty said. “They have endured a long road to criminal accountability with patience and dignity. I cannot imagine their continued pain and grief, knowing their loved one’s life was wrongfully taken by someone sworn to protect them.”