A Minneapolis police officer was closely chasing a car through a red light this week when he crashed into and killed an innocent motorist, according to police records. Meanwhile, the family of the dead man demanded transparency and justice.

Officer Brian Cummings was northbound on N. Lyndale Avenue with lights and siren activated as he pursued a suspect in an armed carjacking and one or more robberies, said a police report released Wednesday. The report suggested that Cummings ran the red light when he hit the driver's side of Leneal Frazier's SUV on Tuesday at N. Lyndale and 41st avenues.

"The suspect vehicle disobeyed the red light and the squad followed," the report said. Frazier drove into the intersection after the suspect vehicle had passed and as the squad was entering it.

The collision pushed Frazier's westbound vehicle into a minivan stopped at the red light facing southbound, then into a Metro Transit bus shelter before coming to rest, the report said.

Frazier, 40, of St. Paul, was taken to a hospital, where he was stable but "suddenly coded," the report continued. "Hospital staff were able to get a pulse back but lost it again, and the driver was pronounced dead at the hospital," it said.

Cummings and the minivan driver were slightly injured.

At a news conference Friday afternoon, Frazier's family members, supporters and several community leaders demanded that Cummings be fired and criminally prosecuted, noting that civilians are swiftly charged in similar fatal crashes.

Frazier's mother, sister, two brothers and two daughters were among about two dozen people who gathered outside City Hall, home of police headquarters.

"My brother got taken away from us for no reason," said Frazier's brother, Orlando Frazier. " … We want justice because how can this keep going on like this?"

Orlando Frazier said his family has been further traumatized because they have not been allowed to view his brother's body.

Frazier's daughter, Jamie Bradford, said Cummings should have been more careful.

"He was supposed to take precautions," she said. "He was supposed to slow down. … My heart is broke. My soul hurt."

One of the family's attorneys, Jeff Storms, said they have not seen police body camera or dashcam footage of the incident, despite their requests. He said police release such footage when it's to their advantage and withhold it when it's not.

Surveillance video from a gas station nearby showed Frazier's vehicle entering the intersection before the squad slammed into the driver's side.

Storms said he plans to sue on behalf of the family once he gathers more information and evidence.

Civil rights activist and lawyer Nekima Levy Armstrong asked Gov. Tim Walz to appoint Attorney General Keith Ellison to review the case for possible criminal charges. The Hennepin County Attorney's Office said no case on Cummings had been presented to the office for charging consideration as of late Friday afternoon.

Levy Armstrong, community activist Mel Reeves and others said police pursuits are dangerous and disproportionately affect Black neighborhoods.

"We know that this would not have happened in southwest Minneapolis," Levy Armstrong said.

She and the others criticized city leaders for not being tougher on the police and for ignoring similar crashes in the past.

In May 2013, motorcyclist Ivan Romero Olivares was killed when he struck a squad driven by officer Josh Young, who was on his way to the scene where Terrance Franklin was shot and killed by police. Video evidence showed that Young slowed, then crossed against a red light when Olivares, who had a green light, struck the rear of his squad. After an investigation, Young was not disciplined or charged.

Mayor Jacob Frey said Thursday that the city will review yet again its police pursuit policy. Minneapolis' pursuit policy, which was updated in 2019 after chases jumped 25% over three years, states that police may not initiate a pursuit or must terminate one if it "poses an unreasonable risk to the officers, the public or passengers of the vehicle being pursued who may be unwilling participants."

The policy says officers can only give chase when they believe a suspect has committed or is about to commit "a serious and violent felony or gross misdemeanor." It also allows pursuits if the suspect's driving "would pose an imminent and life-threatening danger to the public."

Police spokesman John Elder said Tuesday that Cummings' pursuit "fit the criteria."

Minneapolis NAACP President Angela Rose Myers said at the family news conference that policies are meaningless if they aren't enforced.

"It doesn't matter if you change anything in words if people's practices do not change," she said.

Mohamed Ibrahim, deputy director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the group's community advocacy manager, Zaynab Mohamed, called for an end to pursuits in residential neighborhoods.

The State Patrol was investigating the crash, while police continued to search for the subject of the pursuit.

Frazier was the uncle of Darnella Frazier, the young woman whose cellphone video of George Floyd's death in May 2020 helped to convict fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murder.

paul.walsh@startribune.com • 612-673-4482

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