Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

A former Mountie has avoided jail time after Crown prosecutors appealed a sentence for his actions during a police chase that ended with the shooting death of a man in northern Manitoba.

The Manitoba Court of Appeal imposed a three-month sentence for Abram Letkeman but stayed an order that he spend any time behind bars.

The appeal ruling said a jail sentence “would have had an important purpose in deterring other police officers from overreaching the bounds of their authority and venturing into criminal conduct – and in loudly denouncing such conduct.”

Story continues below advertisement

Even so, two of the three Appeal Court judges found the former Mountie still did not need to go to jail.

A lower court earlier ruled Mr. Letkeman would not have to serve jail time for the conviction of criminal negligence causing bodily harm related to his driving before the 2015 death of Steven Campbell outside Thompson. He was acquitted of manslaughter and other shooting-related charges.

The trial heard that Mr. Letkeman saw a Jeep early on a November morning as bars were closing in the northern community of about 15,000 people.

Mr. Letkeman testified he suspected the driver was impaired and attempted a traffic stop, but the Jeep drove away. He started to pursue the vehicle being driven by Mr. Campbell. There were also four passengers, including Mr. Campbell’s girlfriend.

Court heard the former Mountie used his cruiser to hit the back of the Jeep to stop it. A use of force expert testified at trial that the move was against protocol and training, and was extremely risky.

Mr. Letkeman continued to follow the vehicle on to a trail for all-terrain vehicles. He then used his police vehicle to T-bone the Jeep.

The officer testified he didn’t wait for backup and walked in front of the Jeep. He told court the vehicle began to move toward him, so he fired his weapon.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Campbell, 39, was hit at least nine times. His girlfriend was also hit and court heard she suffers from severe, lifelong injuries.

Justice Chris Martin, who oversaw the trial, said in his decision he was torn about whether Mr. Letkeman should be incarcerated. He ruled there would be no benefit to putting the former officer behind bars and sentenced Mr. Letkeman to three years probation, 240 hours of community service and fined him $10,000.

The Court of Appeal decision, delivered last week, found Justice Martin made an error in not sending the Mountie to jail.

“A custodial sentence is required in order to address the accused’s misconduct, which seriously undermines the bond that should exist between the public and the police,” the decision said.

But considering Mr. Letkeman had paid the fine and the time it took for the appeal hearing, two of the three judges decided against requiring the former Mountie to go to jail now.

Justice William Burnett, who differed from colleagues in a dissenting ruling, said the “the trial judge’s approach completely misses the point.” He said the former officer should have been incarcerated.

Story continues below advertisement

“Public confidence requires that the community know that police officers who commit crimes using excessive force will be dealt with harshly by the courts,” Justice Burnett wrote.

He said it was inconceivable that a civilian would receive such a lenient sentence for something similar. He added that a fine was never a fit sentence.

Justice Burnett said Mr. Letkeman should have faced 36 months in jail, reduced by six months for community service.

Mr. Campbell’s mother, Shirley Huber, said her son was so much more than his final moments. She thinks jail would have been appropriate since Mr. Letkeman’s actions contributed to his death and the significant injury of other people.

“He took someone’s life needlessly and, if he can sleep peacefully at night knowing that, he’s not much of a human being,” Ms. Huber said in an online message. “I hope that’s not his case.”

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies