RCMP officer who shot Thompson driver in 2015 charged with manslaughter

RCMP Const.  Abram Letkeman, who shot and killed Steven Campbell of Thompson in a traffic stop in the early morning hours of Nov. 21, 2015, has been charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death upon the recommendation of Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU) civilian director Zane Tessler.

Letkeman was arrested March 1 and charged with one count of manslaughter, one count of criminal negligence causing death, one count of reckless discharge of a firearm, one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and one count of dangerous driving, said the IIU in a March 2 press release. Letkeman was released on bail until a court date in Thompson on March 31.

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The IIU press release said Tessler, in consultation with Manitoba Prosecutions Service, determined there were reasonable grounds to believe criminal offences occurred.

Campbell, a 39-year-old man who had lived in Thompson for about 15 years, was shot and killed by Letkeman on a dirt road off Princeton Drive. Police said at the time that the vehicle Campbell was in was pulled over for erratic driving after a brief pursuit and that the driver accelerated towards an officer who was approaching it, at which time the officer fired his gun, killing the driver and wounding a female passenger.

Campbell's mother, Shirley Huber, who lives in Alberta, told the Thompson Citizen that she was notified of the charges by the investigator March 1. Huber said the news doesn't bring her family any closure, which won't be possible at least until a trial is held.

"We'll be looking forward to the court case," she said.

Huber told the Citizen in November 2015 that one of the passengers told her the RCMP officer pursing Campbell slammed his car into it and stopped him and that he fired his weapon nine times, hitting Campbell three times and a female passenger once. The officer was taken to hospital for treatment of minor injuries and released. The passenger told Huber that she and Campbell had been drinking and that Campbell accelerated when the RCMP officer flashed his lights at them because he didn't want to get caught for impaired driving, which he had been charged with before.

An inquest into the shooting under the terms of the Fatality Inquiries Act was called Aug. 31, 2016 because Campbell died as a result of an act or omission of a peace officer in the course of duty.

The IIU investigates all serious incidents involving on- or off-duty police officers in Manitoba.

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