Follow-up to the RJN's Demand for Brian Cummings to be Fired

JULY 30, 2021

Mayor Jacob Frey 
Minneapolis City Hall
350 Fifth St. S., Room 331
Minneapolis, MN 55415 

Chief Medaria Arradondo 
Minneapolis City Hall
350 Fifth St. S., Room 130
Minneapolis, MN 55415 

City Attorney Jim Rowader 
Minneapolis City Hall
350 Fifth St. S., Room 210
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Penned from–

The Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Racial Justice Network

In follow-up to the Racial Justice Network’s Demand for Brian Cummings to be Fired

Dear Mayor Frey, Chief Arradondo, and City Attorney Rowader:

On July 8, the Racial Justice Network released a press statement in response to the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) killing of Leneal Frazier, an innocent Black man, on July 6 during a high-speed police pursuit in North Minneapolis. In our press statement, we called for the immediate firing of Brian Cummings for his dangerous, reckless behavior. We have yet to receive a response; and this letter is a follow up to our demand.

Frazier was a beloved father and the uncle of Darnella Frazier, the teen who courageously filmed the murder of George Floyd at the hands of MPD. The trauma and pain that Darnella and her family have been forced to experience is unimaginable. The officers’ history of alleged misconduct prior to these deadly encounters are very similar. Both Derek Chauvin and Brian Cummings had multiple complaints in which they were never held accountable for their misconduct. The enabling behavior by top city leadership empowers officers like Cummings to pursue an alleged carjacking suspect with the same cowboy attitude that we saw during the killing of Winston Smith by the North Star Task Force, or the killing of Jamar Clark or the killing of Terrance Franklin. The consistent outcome was no discipline in each of these cases. It is a troubling pattern of forgiveness toward officer misconduct that sends the message that reckless and dangerous behaviour will not lead to any real consequences. It also sends the message that Black lives do not matter within the city of Minneapolis.

In what industry or career field can an employee be granted so many second chances when they have shown such a clear pattern of incompetency to conduct their job at an acceptable level? Petty crimes, petty violations and infractions, and non-violent offenses often land the ordinary citizen in jail, but Brian Cummings can assault a mentally ill and accumulate 11 complaints and three lawsuits while continuing to collect paychecks. We demand simple accountability for police misconduct; consequences that serve to deter abhorrent behavior so families like the Fraziers can heal instead of reel from another death at the hands of Minneapolis Police. Would any other Minneapolis citizen working any other job be granted this much leniency for misconduct that resulted in such a severe outcome? No.

In 2019, MPD revised its pursuit policy to state that police may no longer initiate a pursuit or must terminate a pursuit in progress if it “poses an unreasonable risk to the officers, the public or passengers of the vehicle being pursued who may be unwilling participants.” Clearly this chase posed an unreasonable risk to the public since a Black man’s life was stolen in the process. Despite suspected carjacking pursuits being specifically risky, Officer Cummings engaged in a known dangerous pursuit against department policy.

Minneapolis became the epicenter for police reform after the murder of George Floyd, yet we have not seen any substantive change in the Minneapolis Police Department in the past 14 1/2 months. You have the power to change this pattern and you can start by firing Brian Cummings. Mayor Frey, Chief Arradondo, City Attorney Rowader, honor your commitment to justice, accountability and reform by firing Brian Cummings immediately for his reckless and dangerous behavior that resulted in the killing of Leneal Frazier.


The Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Racial Justice Network

Letter to Gov Walz, Re: Winston Smith

JUNE 10, 2021

The Honorable Tim Walz
Governor of Minnesota

130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55155

Penned from–

Members of the Racial Justice Network

In response to the violent and horrific death of a Black man and father, Winston Smith, who was killed last week by Sheriff’s Deputies from Hennepin and Ramsey Counties under the authority of the U.S. Marshals

Dear Governor Walz,

As the world watches Minnesota and our demands for genuine transformation, accountability, and transparency within our system of policing, we face yet another violent and horrific death of a Black man and father at the hands of law enforcement.

Winston Smith was killed last week by Sheriff’s Deputies from Hennepin and Ramsey Counties under the authority of the U.S. Marshals.

The public has received scant details about what happened and why and even those details have changed repeatedly over the last few days. Not only has the public been told that there is no body camera or dash camera footage available, which is unfathomable in 2021; but now we are being told by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) that the identities of the officers will not be revealed because they were supposedly acting undercover.

It appears that no one is accepting responsibility or taking accountability for the police killing of Winston Smith.

As Minnesota residents, we deserve better and we demand better. Since you became Governor, multiple people have been killed by police under very questionable circumstances. Yet, we have not seen the calls for more transparency, stronger policies to protect the public from unwarranted police violence, and a more robust disciplinary system be addressed by you or your administration with a sense of urgency. 

We have made clear for many years that the BCA is not a credible or competent agency for investigating killings by police officers. In addition to their lack of credibility, the BCA has major conflicts of interest which should result in the agency’s immediate removal from investigating the police killing of Winston Smith.

As you may know, Ramona Dohman, the current head of the U.S. Marshals for the District of Minnesota is the former boss of Drew Evans, the BCA Superintendent; stemming from her time as Commissioner of Public Safety for Minnesota.

Further, the Star Tribune recently reported that some BCA agents have been deputized by the U.S. Marshals to become members of their task force(s). Thus, we believe that it is impossible to expect a fair and impartial investigation. What we have seen thus far is evidence of a cover-up of the killing of Winston Smith.

We, the members of the Racial Justice Network, are calling for the following demands to be met:

  • Immediately bar the BCA and all law enforcement agencies from participating in the US Marshal’s Northstar Task Force and any other federal task forces;
  • Immediately remove the BCA from investigating the shooting of Winston Smith and request an independent federal investigation;
  • Create an independent panel to review task force agency conduct and the memorandum(a) of agreement/understanding between Minnesota law enforcement agencies and federal law enforcement agencies. The independent panel should report findings and recommendations to the public; and there should be accountability for officers who engaged in civil rights and human rights violations of civilians;
  • Hold Minnesota law enforcement officers who participated on the NorthStar Task Force that killed Winston Smith accountable under law. Their identities should also be released to the public, as well as any footage regarding this police killing;
  • Pass meaningful police reform legislation and use your executive power and resources to establish an Independent Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute killings by law enforcement officers in the state of Minnesota.

The truth of what happened to Winston Smith and so many other individuals who have been killed by police in Minnesota, remains hidden beneath the thin blue line of injustice because of policy failures at the highest levels. 

Governor Walz, the world is watching. We demand change. We demand a response from you and decisive action. We are not looking for lip service, politics as usual, or empty rhetoric. Even with all eyes on Minnesota, we continue to experience the same violent policing and adherence to qualified immunity that encourages lethal tactics and abuse of citizens. We demand change, not more empty promises.


Racial Justice Network