Charges dropped for guy accused of leading cops on a pursuit (while cop who pursued him sits in jail)

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – In July of 2021, former Minneapolis Police Officer Brian Cummings was pursuing a man in a stolen vehicle before crashing into a passerby’s vehicle, tragically killing the driver. Cummings later pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter and is now a convicted felon, however, the person he was allegedly chasing has had all criminal charges dropped.

The Hennepin County District Attorney’s Office announced on August 25th that they were dropping all criminal charges against 20-year-old James Jeremiah Jones-Drain, the man accused of leading Cummings on a vehicle pursuit that ultimately led to the death of 40-year-old Leneal Frazier.

Jones-Drain had faced up to 40 years in prison for allegedly driving the stolen vehicle that Cummings had been pursuing.

Hennepin County District Attorney Mary Moriarty reported that the charges were dropped against Jones-Drain because of “an inability to prove all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt at this time.”

Moriarty’s office released the following rationale, “This case was dismissed at this point to preserve the ability to recharge it in the future because trial was scheduled to begin and we are currently unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Jones-Drain was the driver of or even in the fleeing vehicle at the time of the crash that killed Leneal Frazier. Should additional evidence come to light that makes it possible to prove the case, we intend to recharge it.”

While the exact reason why the District Attorney feels that there is insufficient evidence against Jones-Drain is unclear, the decision to drop the charges does allow the ability for another shot at trying and convicting him.

Whereas, if the case went directly to trial and he was found not guilty, any chance of Jones-Drain facing consequences is no longer possible due to double jeopardy.

Cummings pled guilty to criminal vehicular homicide for his part in the vehicle pursuit which ultimately ended in Frazier losing his life. He was sentenced to nine months in the county workhouse, with eligibility for home monitoring in three months in July of this year.

In an emailed response, Cumming’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said, “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.”

A spokesman, Nicholas Kimball, for the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office released a statement after Plunkett’s email had been sent to news outlets.

He responded, “Mr. Plunkett’s client sits in jail because he voluntarily pled guilty to criminal vehicular homicide and admitted under oath, while represented by Mr. Plunkett, to needlessly driving in a grossly negligent manner at a speed of almost 100 mph in a residential area, causing the unfortunate death of Mr. Frazier.

“It is also worth noting that Mr. Cummings admitted he had legitimate alternatives to his criminal conduct and that he caused excessive danger to the general public with his actions.

If his admitted conduct had not been so far from the norm, he would not have been charged, pled guilty, or been convicted.”

KSTP-TV obtained a statement from an attorney for the family of Frazier who reported the family did “not [receive] justice.”

The attorney, Jeff Storms, statement read in part, “The family of Leneal Frazier is deeply disappointed by the Hennepin County Attorney’s decision to dismiss the charges against James Jeremiah Jones-Drain. Leneal was a valued and loved member of his family.

His family continues to deeply grieve and mourn his absence. Officer Cummings serving a few months in local confinement as the sole criminal accountability for Leneal’s death is not justice for Leneal and his family.”
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