Manitoba

Victim had bullets lodged in body, was shot at least 9 times, Thompson police shooting trial hears

Steven Campbell was shot at least nine times in his arms, chest and jaw the night he died in a shooting involving an RCMP officer in Thompson, Man., court heard Wednesday.

Const. Abram Letkeman has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter following 2015 death of Steven Campbell, 39

Steven Campbell, seen here with his sister Shannon Heck, was shot and killed by an RCMP officer after a short car chase in November 2015. The officer accused of manslaughter in connection with Campbell's death is on trial in a Thompson court. (Submitted by Shannon Heck)

Steven Campbell was shot at least nine times in his arms, chest and jaw the night he died in a shooting involving an RCMP officer in Thompson, Man., court heard Wednesday.

Two bullets were still lodged in Campbell's body days later when the autopsy began, forensic pathologist Dr. John Younes testified in a Thompson courtroom at the trial for RCMP Const. Abram Letkeman, accused of manslaughter in connection with the 2015 shooting.

Younes, who is also Manitoba's chief medical examiner, told court that Campbell had cuts to his hand and wrist. Those were likely caused by broken glass from the driver's-side window of the vehicle he was sitting in at the time of the shooting, Younes testified.

The judge-only Court of Queen's Bench trial, now in its third day, previously heard that Campbell, 39, was shot following a police chase on Nov. 21, 2015.

Younes testified on Wednesday that Campbell had a blood alcohol level of 0.19, almost 2½ times the legal limit to drive. He told court Campbell had a small amount of cocaine in his body that indicated recent use.

Police cruiser T-boned Jeep: expert

Letkeman's defence team doesn't dispute that the officer shot and killed Campbell while on duty, Crown attorney Christian Vanderhooft told the court in an agreed statement of facts Monday.

On Tuesday, officers working with Letkeman told court they were sent to help him respond to an impaired driver call that became a police chase, ending with the shooting on an ATV trail near Highway 6. Officers told court they found Letkeman limping, and he appeared to be in pain. 

At the time of the shooting, RCMP said the vehicle Letkeman was pursuing accelerated and hit him.

Passengers in the vehicle with Campbell, however, told court the only collision that took place was when the police cruiser rammed into the side of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Campbell was driving.

Steven Campbell was the father of two girls, age two and 11 at the time of the shooting. (Submitted by Shannon Heck)

Cpl. Ryan Cadotte, an RCMP crash reconstructionist, testified Wednesday there were two separate collisions that night.

Damage on the cruiser and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Campbell was driving indicates the first crash came from behind, when the cruiser hit the back end of the Jeep hard enough to leave a trailer hitch imprint on the front of the cruiser and make the Jeep spin all the way around, Cadotte told court. As it did, the cruiser slid into the side of the Jeep, Cadotte said.

Then, on the ATV trail, the cruiser T-boned the Jeep, he testified. He said the cruiser hit the side of the Jeep hard enough to leave tire markings stamped onto the front of the cruiser.

Tire markings in the snow indicate Campbell reversed and started to drive away, Cadotte said. But the Jeep hit a patch of ice, spinning it out across the trail.

Dr. Manohar Krishnan, who treated Letkeman at Thompson General Hospital the night of the shooting, told court the officer came in with redness and swelling on his right foot and ankle.

The doctor testified Wednesday Letkeman had a soft tissue injury, with no bruising, bleeding or cuts. X-ray scans showed no bones were broken. The doctor testified the officer had a sprained ankle and declined medication.

'Remembering Steven'

Letkeman was arrested on March 1, 2017. In addition to manslaughter, he was charged with criminal negligence causing death, reckless discharge of a firearm, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

He's being represented by defence attorney Joshua Weinstein in the trial before Justice Chris Martin. 

Campbell was the father of two girls, who were two and 11 when he died, his family told CBC News in 2015. Family members wearing T-shirts reading "Remembering Steven" sat in court for the trial.

Daryl Huber, Steven Campbell's stepfather, says Campbell was a loving father to his two young daughters. (Aidan Geary/CBC)

Daryl Huber, Campbell's stepfather, said Campbell had struggled with addiction in the past. But he said Campbell was a loving father who'd do anything for his kids.

"Those girls were his life," Huber said Wednesday.

Huber said his family is hurting. After hearing evidence in court, Huber said his stepson's death could have been avoided. 

"The outcome was awful, and it didn't have to be," he said. "There was so many spots where it could have stopped."

He said his family wants to see Letkeman removed from the RCMP. He hopes the trial brings his family closure.

"There's no winner in this game. The other people are hurting as well. I'm sure their family is wondering what the heck is going to happen to this fellow, the RCMP member," he said.

"I don't suppose it ever stops, when your children pass away. But this [trial] should provide some closure at some point, when the verdict is done ... Then hopefully we can carry on a little bit better than we have."

RCMP spokesperson Paul Manaigre told CBC Letkeman has been suspended with pay since March 2017.

Letkeman's trial will resume Tuesday in Thompson.