By The Canadian Press
THOMPSON, Man. — An RCMP officer pleaded not guilty Monday to manslaughter, criminal negligence and other charges stemming from an on-duty shooting following a vehicle chase.
Const. Abram Letkeman is on trial for the 2015 death of Steven Campbell, who was behind the wheel of a Jeep with four passengers when the officer tried to pull him over for erratic driving and a chase ensued.
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which investigates serious actions involving police in the province, said at the time that the Jeep came to a stop. When Letkeman approached the vehicle, it suddenly accelerated and struck the officer, prompting him to fire his gun.
Campbell’s long-time girlfriend, Lori Flett, was shot and injured while in the passenger seat.
She told court it was the police vehicle that hit the Jeep during the chase. She also said Campbell was not holding onto the steering wheel when bullets came through the windshield.
“His hands were down,” Flett told the Court of Queen’s Bench trial when it started Monday.
“I just remember Steven … he was leaning towards the wheel. I was going to check on him and I got shot.”
Campbell did not have a weapon, she added.
Under cross-examination, Flett admitted to having used cocaine and alcohol that evening. She and others in the Jeep had been at a bar.
She did not respond when Letkeman’s lawyer suggested her memory of that evening was not good.
The trial also heard from members of the RCMP forensics identification team.
Craig Glover, a constable at the time, testified there were 12 casings found at the scene.
Another officer, Darren Martin, told court that after the shooting he saw Letkeman with a tensor bandage on one foot. He had no other noticeable injuries.
“There was no external injury that I could see that was obvious. It appeared there may have been some swelling. But I’m not a doctor, I can’t really offer an opinion,” Martin testified.
“But no scrapes, things like that that you recall?” asked Crown prosecutor Chris Vanderhooft.
“No,” Martin replied.
The trial, which is being heard by a judge without a jury, is scheduled to last two weeks.
— By Steve Lambert in Winnipeg