A Thompson RCMP officer has been found not guilty of manslaughter in a 2015 on-duty shooting that killed a drunk driver and injured a passenger.
But 37-year-old Constable Abram Letkeman was found guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
A trial in Thompson Monday heard how Letkeman fired a dozen shots into a Jeep, killing 39-year-old Steven Campbell. Campbell was hit at least nine and his girlfriend was injured in the shooting.
Crown prosecutors argued that Letkeman made a series of wrong and negligent choices resulting in the shooting. The defence lawyer said the officer thought his life was in danger because the Jeep was moving towards him.
The trial heard that Letkeman saw the Jeep being driven erratically immediately after bars closed and after a failed traffic stop, he pursued the vehicle but never relayed that information to his supervisors.
Letkeman testified that his goal was to end the chase by bumping the back of the Jeep with his police car. A use of force expert stated that the move was against protocol and training, and was extremely risky.
The Jeep ended up on an ATV trail, where it lost control and stopped, then was T-boned by Letkeman’s vehicle.
The officer stated that he didn’t wait for backup and walked in front of the Jeep to perform a high-risk takedown. Then, he said, the Jeep started moving towards him which forced him to fire.
A toxicology report on Campbell’s body showed his blood-alcohol level was almost 2 ½ times the legal limit to drive. It also showed a trace amount of cocaine.
The Crown argued during closing arguments in June that Letkeman stood in front of the Jeep and fired so it wouldn’t be able to drive away, not due to fear for his life.
The Prosecutor said none of Letkeman’s acts on the night of the shooting were reasonable.