First George Floyd, now her uncle: Darnella Frazier grieves another Black man killed by police

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Darnella Frazier, the teenage bystander who filmed the murder of George Floyd, has experienced enough trauma to last a lifetime. Yet she's grieving the loss of another Black man at the hands of Minneapolis police.

This time, the victim is not a stranger, not a man she happened upon as he was pinned under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer – a chance encounter that thrust her into an international spotlight because she was brave enough to pull out her phone and record what she, a 17-year-old, knew was wrong.

This time, the victim is her uncle.

Leneal Lamont Frazier, 40, died Tuesday after his vehicle was struck by a squad car as police chased a robbery suspect, according to Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder. Police spotted a driver in a vehicle believed to have been stolen during a carjacking and linked to multiple robberies. The driver fled as officers attempted to make a traffic stop. As an officer pursued the suspect, he collided with Frazier's vehicle.

Opinions in your inbox: Get a digest of our takes on current events every morning

"Minneapolis police killed my uncle. My uncle. Another black man lost his life in the hands of the police!" Darnella Frazier wrote on Facebook.

The circumstances are different, but that fact doesn't lessen Frazier's pain. Derek Chauvin intentionally kneeled on the neck of Floyd for more than nine minutes, literally crushing the life out of him. I'm certain the officer involved in this chase didn't set out to kill Frazier, but only time will tell whether a high-speed chase through a residential neighborhood was justified.

"When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles," Darnella Frazier testified.
"When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles," Darnella Frazier testified.

"Minneapolis police has cost my whole family a big loss," she wrote. "You took an innocent life trying to catch someone else."

More than 5,000 bystanders and passengers were killed and tens of thousands more were injured in police car chases since 1979, a 2015 USA TODAY analysis found. Black people – both innocent bystanders and those fleeing police – have been killed in police chases at a rate nearly three times higher than everyone else.

Law enforcement observers have long considered police pursuits one of the most dangerous kinds of police activity because of their potential for endangering the public at large. Many departments, including Minneapolis police, follow policies that force officers to end police pursuits if they pose an unreasonable risk to the officers, the public or passengers of the vehicle being pursued who might be unwilling participants.

Chauvin sentenced: May Derek Chauvin's lack of remorse as he heads to prison be his final insult

In typical social media bullying fashion, Darnella Frazier has been criticized for what she wrote about her uncle and police being at fault. She has been accused of race-baiting. She has been called out for not blaming the person the police were pursuing.

Frazier, who offered prosecutors an undeniable piece of evidence by filming Floyd's death, tearfully testified during Chauvin’s trial how she has been tortured by what she witnessed: "I’ve stayed up nights apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life."

Last month, Frazier was awarded a special citation by the Pulitzer Prize board for "courageously recording the murder of George Floyd."

Yet during her time of pain – pain that is an extension of the trauma that began for her on May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was killed – she has to fend off detractors. It's just shameful.

More: Ben Crump: Black lives have always had a price. Floyd case brought new accountability.

"Accident or not he’s gone," Darnella Frazier wrote Wednesday on a new Facebook post. "Everyone made it out alive, BUT my uncle. It hurts different because he had NOTHING to do with this. He was on his way home."

It's always so painful when an innocent bystander is injured in a police pursuit. And it always seems like the alleged criminal who is being pursued walks away without a scratch – that is if they are even apprehended.

Darnella Frazier is beyond strong – she has already shown us that. But she's also young and has witnessed and experienced the unimaginable. Let's show her some grace as she grapples with the death of her loved one.

National columnist Suzette Hackney is a member of USA TODAY’S Editorial Board. Contact her at or on Twitter: @suzyscribe

You can read diverse opinions from our Board of Contributors and other writers on the Opinion front page, on Twitter @usatodayopinion and in our daily Opinion newsletter. To respond to a column, submit a comment to

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Let Darnella Frazier grieve her uncle in peace following police crash

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting