Bryant’s charges dropped but PR continues

June 21, 2010

There is a story in the Toronto Media Co-op about Navigator’s campaign on behalf of Michael Bryant

Special Prosecutor and PR Firm Navigator Involved in Other High-profile Scandals

Toronto Media Co-op, June 20, 2010

by GEORDIE GWALGEN DENT,

Toronto – Outcries of public rage met the announcement that Michael Bryant would not be charged in the death of Darcy Allen Sheppard, a Metis bike courier from Toronto.

Richard Peck, the special prosecutor assigned to the Bryant/Sheppard case, says that the public interest could not have been taken into account in his decision not to prosecute the former Provincial Minister.

“It doesn’t work that way,” said Peck in response to claims that he should have proceeded with charges in the public interest of accountability. “The responsibility on Crown Council is to review the case and see if it meets the threshold for prosecution. The public interest cannot trump the fact that case does not meet the threshold for prosecution…it’s in the Crown Council policy manual. If you don’t have a provable case, you can’t proceed.”

Peck has remained a popular appointment with Provincial governments. He has now been appointed to asses whether charges should be laid against the officers who killed Robert Dziekanski, the Polish immigrant killed after police tasered him five times 30 seconds after confronting him.

A previous statement from the BC criminal justice branch released by Stan Lowe, stated that they unanimously believed that criminal charges against the 4 officers were not necessary. Lowe was appointed as the BC Police Complaints Commissioner two weeks later.

Bryant’s car can be seen on public surveillance video (see below) striking Sheppard and then driving off with Sheppard attached to his car, yet the defendant claims that Sheppard attempted to attack him before he drove off in his car, killing Sheppard.

Read the rest of this story at the Toronto Media Co-op


More Coverage of Michael Bryant’s case

June 4, 2010

There is a facebook group seeking Justice for Darcy Sheppard

Sign the petition

AND

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?! no.28 – Blood on Bloor: Michael Bryant, Privilege, and Murder.

This is an interesting podcast about the case: Listen here

For those who might be unfamiliar with What’s All This Then?! – it’s typically a podcast about unusual Toronto musicians. Interviews, reviews, etc. This episode is an exception: it’s an examination of what actually happened between ex-attorney general Michael Bryant and bike courier Al Sheppard which resulted in Sheppard’s death.

AND:

From the Legion of Decency Blog – Sometimes the Dragon Wins

That said, as the special prosecutor detailed his reasons for dropping the charges, it was hard to feel like justice was being served, or that we’re all still somehow equal in the eyes of the law.

I don’t know why a “special prosecutor” had to be brought in to handle the case, although it makes sense that you can’t have a local Crown prosecuting his former boss without somebody questioning the possibility of impropriety. But when this special prosecutor detailed his reasons for dropping charges, I couldn’t help feeling a greater impropriety was taking place with somebody in charge who would never need to face much local scrutiny or accountability.

Instead of making sure Michael Bryant didn’t get preferential treatment, what was revealed yesterday suggested that’s exactly what he received.

Prosecutors and Bryant’s legal team seemed to share an inordinate amount of information and a lot of time and money was spent investigating the character of the deceased while hard forensic evidence (or the fact it had never been collected) seemed of lesser importance. It was as if both sides were trying the case in private, searching for a path to make it all go away.

Read more at The Legion of Decency


Canada’s cycle couriers: in the eyes of the law, roadkill

June 4, 2010

2004 Markus Cook Award Winner, Buffalo Bill writes an insightful piece about the failure of justice in Toronto.

By Buffalo Bill

The Guardian, May 28, 2010

What message does it send out that Michael Bryant faces no charges after his car crushed Darcy Allan Sheppard to death?

The video of the initial encounter is clear: a cyclist pulls up in front of a stationary car at red traffic light, and stops; after a few moments, the car jerks forward, reverses and then drives straight into the cyclist, knocking him off his bike and onto the bonnet and off again. The car stops briefly, and then drives around the cyclist to carry on down the road. As the car passes, the cyclist grabs hold of the car. Exactly what happens next is not as obvious, as there is no video, but at least this much is not disputed: the car moves over into the oncoming carriageway, hits some street furniture on the sidewalk, denting its side-panels, and at some point, the cyclist loses his grip on the car and falls dead in the roadway.

The driver later hands himself over the police and, in due course, is charged with “criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death”. Last week, the legal proceedings reached their conclusion. The charges against the driver were dropped by the special prosecutor appointed by the province of Ontario to investigate the case, who said that the prosecution had determined that there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

An obvious miscarriage of justice, you might say, but an outcome that was feared by the Toronto messenger community once the identity of the driver became known. Michael Bryant is a former attorney general of Ontario, and Darcy Allan Sheppard was a bicycle messenger. The incident became a major media event, not least because Bryant engaged a well-known Canadian PR company very shortly after Sheppard’s death.

Read the full report at the Guardian


This is justice?

June 3, 2010

By Bob Mionske

Bicycling Magazine’s Road Rights, June 3, 2010

original piece is here

Lawyer Bob Mionske at Bicycling Magazine published this well written piece about the case today.

When a cyclist is killed by a driver, justice is nearly always stacked toward the driver. And in this case in Toronto, the scales were tilted even more than usual.

By Bob Mionske

On August 31, 2009, the worlds of two strangers collided in the posh Bloor Street shopping district of Toronto. In the aftermath, one of those strangers, a bicycle messenger, lay dead, while the other stranger, the former Attorney General of Ontario and a rising political star, stood accused of causing the cyclist’s death.

About a year later, on Tuesday, May 25, 2010, Richard Peck, the special prosecutor appointed to try the case, dropped all charges against Michael Bryant, the former Attorney General accused of causing the death of bicycle messenger Darcy Allan Sheppard.

I can’t say I didn’t see this coming.

From the beginning, this case involved more than just an encounter between a cyclist and a motorist gone awry. As I noted in When Worlds Collide , issues of race, class, and power were a subtext to this case from the moment that Bryant shut off his car’s ignition in the driveway of a luxury hotel, after fleeing the scene where Darcy Sheppard lay dying in the street.

With these undercurrents, it was apparent that no less than the rule of law was at stake in this case. As explained in an article by Rick Bernardi that appeared in Dandyhorse :

The rule of law means that a nation is governed by laws, rather than by the caprices of the powerful few. It means, among other things, that nobody, rich or poor, powerful or powerless, is above the law. It means that even the powerless can find justice under the law, and that even the powerful can be brought to justice. It’s an idea that is ingrained in western society.

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