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Canada  

Cop acquitted in shooting

A judge says he believes that a northern Manitoba RCMP officer genuinely feared for his life when he repeatedly shot at a drunk driver coming at him during an attempted arrest.

Justice Chris Martin on Monday acquitted Const. Abram Letkeman of manslaughter despite a series of poor policing decisions in the lead-up to the 2015 death of Steven Campbell, 39, outside Thompson.

"No doubt Const. Letkeman bears fault, but except for Mr. Campbell's driving forward and then leftward, I am satisfied he would not have shot," Martin said.

The judge also acquitted Letkeman, 37, of other shooting-related charges, but did convict him of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in relation to his driving.

Campbell's mother, Shirley Huber, said she is disappointed there are no repercussions for the shooting. Letkeman should not be able to hold another job in law enforcement, she said.

"In the end he needs to always remember he took a life," Huber said in a message online. "I need him to live with that."

The trial heard the officer saw the Jeep early on a November morning as bars were closing. A toxicology report showed Campbell had alcohol in his system and was almost 2 1/2 times over the legal limit to drive. It also showed a small amount of cocaine.

Letkeman testified he suspected the driver was impaired and attempted a traffic stop, but after a few moments the Jeep drove away. Letkeman started to pursue it, but he did not communicate that to his supervisors.

The vehicles were travelling at low speeds and it was snowing slightly when Letkeman testified that he made the decision to use his cruiser to hit the back of the Jeep. He told court he intended to force the Jeep to rotate and stop.

The Jeep was damaged but it continued moving and ended up on a trail for all-terrain vehicles. Letkeman followed in his cruiser and the Jeep lost control and stopped in some brush. The trial heard Letkeman's vehicle then T-boned it.

The officer testified he didn't wait for backup and walked in front of the Jeep to do a high-risk takedown. He said the Jeep started moving toward him, so he was forced to fire. He also said his foot was run over so he shot as fast as he could to save his own life.

Officers found 12 bullet casings at the scene and Campbell was hit at least nine times. His hands were on the wheel and the Jeep was in drive.



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