The case of Michael Bryant – A thorough investigation by the prosecution to acquit the defendant
A cover story in Canadian Lawyer Magazine says Richard Peck is “considered a lawyer’s lawyer, the person to call when lawyers themselves get into trouble.” He is a defender and promoter of the legal profession. Peck believes you “do what you can to enhance its image and enhance its professionalism and assist those you work with.” Peck has a reputation as a precise user of language. “His language is thoughtful; he considers his words fully and truly in a way that only someone with the love for the English language can.”
As we go through Peck’s analysis and choice of words we are continually mindful of the words of Michael Code, his co-counsel in the Air India bombing case:
“He really cares about language,” Code says of Peck. “This makes him a really unusual lawyer, he loves the English language, and he thinks about the English language, he chooses his words incredibly carefully. So he is probably the best read lawyer of any lawyer I know, because he is just so thoughtful and careful about the way he uses language, real precision and care.”
We should also recognize, as Bryant proudly boasts, while he was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Beverley McLachlin, he wrote the first draft of the majority decision (in Hundal v. Regina) that dealt with criminal negligence causing death. So Bryant was well aware of the legal requirements to defend such a charge.
Most of Bryant’s version of the events were made to the prosecution seven months after Sheppard’s death and only after the prosecution gave Bryant its entire case for him to review. However Bryant first made the claim that he “sensed” a swing in his 911 call.
Also Bryant waited until three minutes after he fled the scene to call 911. Why? Perhaps to come up with the beginnings of a defence. It should also be noted that neither Bryant nor his wife called 911 when he claims he was attacked. Despite having her cell phone, Bryant’s wife, who is also a lawyer, never called 911 at all. This makes us wonder which of these cases applies to her situation:
If your husband was attacked by someone, would you call 911 right away?
If your husband attacked someone, would you call 911 right away?
As we return to the events of August 31, 2009, we begin again where we left off in part one, Bryant has now passed the white SUV.
In the court transcript Peck says:
“Mr. Bryant was a little concerned about the whereabouts of the cyclist. As he was looking to the passenger side rearview mirror, which he thought was a logical place for the cyclist to come, he felt something brush past him. Mr. Sheppard cycled past Mr. Bryant’s vehicle along the driver’s side and then cut in front of Mr. Bryant’s vehicle, stopping his bike directly in front of the Saab. This movement was captured by the southeast facing video camera at 102 Bloor Street.”
As he cycled past the driver’s side, Mr. Bryant had the sense that Mr. Sheppard had taken a swing at him. Later, when Mr. Bryant phoned 911, he reported that the cyclist had taken a swing at him but missed. The video does not confirm that Mr. Sheppard did take a swing. The video experts, however, agree that given the quality of the video, based on the relatively low number of frames recorded per second, it is possible that quick movements might not have been captured by the video. The video does show that Mr. Sheppard slowed his speed and came very close to the driver’s side door, and Mr. Bryant ducked to his right, at the same time, hitting his brakes and turning his wheels to the right. The vehicle, Mr. Bryant says, then stalled.
Note Mr. Peck’s precise language. He acknowledges that both Bryant’s experts and the crown’s experts say the video does not show any punch by Sheppard and then he appears to immediately discount this expert forensic information by addressing a different question.
Peck said that video experts said “it is possible that quick movements might not have been captured by the video.” This is important. He does not say that video experts say “the video could have missed a punch”, only that it could have missed “quick movements.” He does not define quick movements. He doesn’t even say “quick movements such as punch.” This is a man with a reputation for using precise words.
Fortunately we can examine the police reconstruction report to see exactly what the experts said:
21:48:48 Cyclist drove down center of roadway past Saab with hands on handlebars. (Page 33)
It does not mention the possibility of a punch taking place. No witnesses mentioned the possibility of a punch.
Peck notes that Bryant was expecting to see Sheppard pass on the passenger side, to the right of the car but Sheppard was an experienced cyclist and he would know it’s much safer to pass a vehicle on the left to avoid being forced into the curb or getting doored by an exiting passenger. Bryant was likely startled by Sheppard when he passed on the left (driver’s side) of the car.
Both groups of experts say no swing in the video
No witness accounts, including any of Bryant’s witnesses saw Sheppard take a swing
Bryant in his 911 call doesn’t directly accuse Sheppard of taking a swing, only that he “sensed” the possibility because he was startled.
Bryant was looking the wrong way toward the passenger’s side and the curb for Sheppard so he was surprised and startled when Sheppard passed him on the driver’s side.
Police construction report says Sheppard’s hands were on the handlebars
It is possible that Sheppard took a swing at Bryant for no reason.
Now watch the video for yourself:
Coming soon: Part Three – The stalled car that no witness saw