THOMPSON, Man. – A forensic pathologist has testified that an RCMP officer in northern Manitoba shot a man at least nine times before he died.
Const. Abram Letkeman has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including manslaughter and criminal negligence, in the on-duty shooting of Steven Campbell in November 2015.
“There were 11 entrance wounds on Mr. Campbell’s body,” John Younes, who is also Manitoba’s chief medical examiner, told Letkeman’s trial on Wednesday. “There were a minimum of nine bullets that struck him.”
Two bullets lodged in the man’s body – one in his jaw and another in his shoulder. The pathologist explained another bullet went through Campbell’s open mouth.
The Court of Queen’s Bench trial has heard the officer attempted to pull over a Jeep shortly after bars had closed in Thompson, Man., on suspicion the driver was impaired. Campbell was behind the wheel and there were four passengers inside, including Campbell’s longtime girlfriend Lori Flett.
A toxicology report showed Campbell had alcohol in his system and was almost 2 1/2 times the legal limit to drive. It also showed a small amount of cocaine.
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which investigates serious actions involving police, said at the time that there was a brief chase. The Jeep came to a stop and, when Letkeman approached the vehicle, it accelerated and struck the officer. Investigators said that’s when he fired his gun.
Flett testified earlier this week that Campbell’s hands were not on the steering wheel when the officer began firing. She was also injured on one side of her head during the shooting.
Younes explained in detail what impact each bullet had on Campbell’s body, going through his shoulder, neck, arms and jaw. He said most of the wounds on their own would not cause death; however, one shot tore through major organs.
Younes found the cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds.
The pathologist also spoke about glass found on Campbell’s clothing and the direction of the bullets. He said the bullets were likely to have come in “from outside the driver’s side of the vehicle.”
When questioned by the defence, Younes said the position of the shooter couldn’t be conclusive.
Two officers have already testified that Letkeman radioed in that shots had been fired and he appeared to have difficulty walking when they arrived.
A member of the RCMP forensics team also testified that 12 shell casings were found at the scene and no weapons were in Campbell’s Jeep.