Updated 3:10 p.m.
Ben Crump, the attorney who won a $27 million settlement from the city of Minneapolis over the killing of George Floyd in police custody, now says he is representing the family of Leneal Frazier, who died in a crash with a Minneapolis police squad car early Tuesday morning.
Frazier, 40, is the uncle of Darnella Frazier, the teen who recorded video of Floyd’s murder in May 2020.
“Police pursuits should be rare and law enforcement should take the greatest of precautions to protect all involved, especially innocent drivers and bystanders,” Crump said in a statement.
Separately, Mayor Jacob Frey offered his condolences in a Facebook post, calling Leneal Frazier’s death “a horrific tragedy.”
The Minneapolis police updated its pursuit policy in 2019 “to make it far more restrictive and will again be reviewing … the policy, independent of the investigation,” Frey wrote.
Police say that at about 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the squad car driven by officer Brian Cummings collided with two other vehicles, about a dozen blocks away from where he first spotted a vehicle reportedly carjacked from its owner and used in several robberies.
When Cummings tried to stop it, the driver fled, leading to the pursuit.
Frazier was in an SUV crossing the route of the police pursuit and was gravely injured. He died a short time later at North Memorial Health Hospital.
The fleeing driver escaped and has not been identified.
The intersection where the crash happened has become the site of a makeshift memorial, and Frazier’s family, friends and supporters gathered there Wednesday night, a sign of growing anger about the circumstances of his death.
The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating the crash.
Darnella Frazier, who won worldwide fame and Pulitzer recognition for documenting Floyd’s death, has posted on Facebook about the crash, blaming Minneapolis police for her uncle’s death.
“You took an innocent life trying to catch someone else,” she wrote, although she later posted that she didn’t think the death was intentional.
Lisa Clemons, a community activist who knows the family of Leneal Frazier, pointed out the fact that this incident has re-traumatized Darnella Frazier. Clemons is a former police officer herself, and she says there is always potential for injuries and deaths in a chase like this — and police officers have to weigh that.
"It's an accident that ended in a tragic loss. There is no other way to get around that,” said Clemons. “It's just an accident and we lost somebody in our community. We lost a father, a friend, a brother."
MPR News Reporter Riham Feshir contributed to this story.
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