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


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

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