Mess Media, December 9, 2009
Former Ontario attorney-general Michael Bryant has been charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death in relation to the death of cyclist Darcy Allan (AL) Sheppard after a traffic altercation on August 31, 2009.
Much has been written about the case as it continues to wind its way through the justice system but here is a summary of the facts of the case so far.
The surveillance video shows Bryant pull to a stop at a red light. Then we see Sheppard pass Bryant and stop in front of Bryant’s car at the red light. We don’t know if any altercation happened before the video begins but neither Bryant not Sheppard exchanged words or seemed enraged or threatened at this time.
The video then shows the light change to green. Sheppard has his back turned to Bryant. Sheppard doesn’t move so Bryant twice moved his car toward Sheppard. The two seem to exchange words and then Bryant deliberately rammed his car into Sheppard, knocking him to the ground.
The key piece of video evidence shows that Michael Bryant was the aggressor. It factually documents his deliberate attack on Sheppard.
The video evidence is corroborated by witness statements reported by Christie Blatchford. Blatchford’s column appeared September 1, 2009 in the Globe and Mail, before the video was made public. Blatchford wrote:
“Earlier eyewitness accounts describe an angry clash between Mr. Bryant and Mr. Sheppard – a toot of the horn and a shout to get moving from Mr. Bryant; a refusal and perhaps an answering shout from Mr. Sheppard; Mr. Bryant edging his convertible closer, and by one account, actually hitting Mr. Sheppard’s bike”
Blatchford’s reporting suggests that police will have eyewitness testimony in court to support the video evidence.
With Sheppard on the ground, the video shows Bryant reversed his car and began to drive around Sheppard. Sheppard got up, slammed his backpack on Bryant’s car and grabbed on to it. Bryant sped away with Sheppard attached to his car.
The Globe and Mail interviewed eyewitness Raajiv Rajadurai, 23. The Globe reported that Rajadurai stated:
He saw the cyclist slam his backpack onto the car’s hood and then grab the driver’s side mirror as the vehicle sped away. The convertible’s top was down.
“The driver was going so fast that at one point the biker was holding on to his car and there were sparks coming from the bottom of his shoes,” Mr. Rajadurai said.
“It seemed like the driver was trying to shake him off because he turned really suddenly, put on the brakes, jetted it one last time and then all your hear is three thumps and then the guy falls on the floor.”
CTV interviewed on camera, two construction workers, Ryan Brazeau and Manuel Machado who were laying sewer pipes on Bloor Street where the altercation took place.
Brazeau stated that he witnessed:
“the car speeding up the wrong side with the injured man on the driver’s side of the car holding on as tight as he could. And then the driver of the car pushing up against the curb trying to knock him off on the poles as he went down the opposite side of the road.“
The reporter asked Brazeau “what kind of person would do that?” and Brazeau responded:
Brazeau: “He was yelling pretty loud and he sounded very, very, angry, kind of road rage but, honestly someone that was kind of, I don’t think all there.”
Reporter: The driver of the car was yelling?
Brazeau: (nodding his head) Yeah.
Reporter: What was he yelling at? The cyclist?
The reporter went on to ask Brazeau if he thought Sheppard “was holding on for dear life or trying to keep with the guy”
Brazeau: He was definitely holding on for dear life as soon as the guy accelerated.
Reporter: Do you think he deliberately pulled up to hit him off with the mailbox?
Brazeau: Oh definitely! Definitely deliberately because he went for a 100 metres right down the curb and up on to the side walk.
The witness thought Bryant was “very, very angry”, “kind of road rage” and not “all there.” There was no mention of Bryant in fear or panic, only enraged. He states that Bryant “definitely” and “deliberately” “pulled up against the curb trying to knock him off on the poles as he went down the opposite side of the road.”
Machado, the second construction worker interviewed stated:
“I was standing by the truck and I heard these squealing tires and I saw a black convertible go racing the wrong way past our construction site.
As I looked this car was going about 90[km/hr] and I didn’t know there was a guy hanging on to the passenger’s side.
But after he …the guy went on to the sidewalk. The guy hanging on hit the mailbox hit the road. The guy in the car ran over him with the back tires. The guy bounced and the car sped off and the other, the person that he ran over was there just bleeding.”
The reporter asked Machado, “so what exactly happened? He was holding on to the side of the car. Did it look like it was a deliberate act by the driver of the car?
Machado: Oh yeah! He meant to knock him off because apparently they had a confrontation up at the lights but I couldn’t see the guy hanging on until he bounced off the mailbox and the guy was going at like 90 [km/hr] the wrong way.
After witnessing the incident, Machado stated:
“I felt sick to my stomach when I saw the guy bleeding from his head, his mouth and I just yelled to the guys to call 911.“