In the court transcripts of the case against Michael Bryant, special prosecutor Richard Peck made some comments as to the credibility and the nature of witness statements.
In this case eyewitnesses are people who were either in cars or on the street, in some cases within a few feet of the altercations. Some of them called 911 and sat with police for video interviews. Some of them spoke to the media, and related what they saw. Their witness testimonies were in some cases recorded mere minutes after the events while things were fresh in their minds. Because Bryant fled the scene of the initial accident, dragging Sheppard along the road, it was very difficult for any one witness to see the entire events that night. However it does not diminish the credibility of their description of the events they saw in person.
In the court transcripts Peck basically retold Bryant’s version of the events without challenging them and attempted to use Bryant’s words to supersede the testimony of independent eyewitnesses. Peck cherry picked parts of the witness’s statement that could be manipulated to support Bryant and ignored explicit statements from the very same witnesses that showed Bryant to be the aggressor intending to cause harm to Sheppard.
“The police took statements from numerous eyewitnesses in the area. The witnesses described seeing and hearing aspects of what occurred. No single witness appears to have observed the events from start to finish. There are both consistencies and inconsistencies in their evidence.”
In a telephone call for Jennifer Well’s Toronto Star report on the case (Lost Boy: The death of Darcy Allan Sheppard) Richard Peck continued to claim inconsistencies among the witnesses.
“There were quite disparate accounts of what happened from eyewitnesses or alleged eyewitnesses,” he says. “There were at least a dozen and they were quite disparate in terms of what they saw, or purported to see, the speeds, the interactions, all those types of things.”
Toronto lawyer Mark Sandler, who has many connections to Michael Bryant and who managed the case for Peck chimed in, “as is often the case when you’ve got a reconstruction of a traffic-related matter, the eyewitness accounts are wildly at variance with each other,” Sandler says.
So let’s look at the witness statements and compare them to each other and Bryant’s self-serving version of the events that he came up with immediately after receiving full disclosure of the Crown’s case.
The following is a compilation of all of the available witness notes from the police reconstruction report, police interviews of three witnesses, media interview of other witnesses, 911 calls and compared them all in a spreadsheet.
Not surprisingly the eyewitness testimony is quite consistent and it confirms what is seen in the video and forensic analysis. Witness statements clearly contradict Peck’s attempt to frame their words in support of Bryant’s version of the events.
Eyewitnesses were interviewed immediately so they did not know that Bryant would claim almost eight months later that his car stalled. Police did not have the opportunity to ask the eyewitnesses this question and no eyewitness suggested the car stalled at any time. In police video questioning Detective Hanna Bartz did ask two of the closest eyewitnesses if the car made any unusual sounds. Both replied “No.”
Among Peck’s most prejudicial, misleading completely false statements are the following:
“The accounts of the eyewitnesses, coupled with the forensic examinations, confirm that Mr. Sheppard was attempting to attack Mr. Bryant at that time.”
“One of the largely consistent themes is that Mr. Sheppard was acting loudly and aggressively, confronting Mr. Bryant.”
Witness 9.13 who was one of the two closest witnesses (9.12 was the other) reported that Sheppard stated “You want me to move now” after he stopped in front of the car. She also noted that Bryant’s response was to bump Sheppard with the car. In fact she said that most of the yelling was due to her yelling at Bryant to “stop it”.
Peck consistently emphasized that Bryant was quiet and said nothing during the entire altercation. His statement directly contradicts the statements made by the many construction workers who were eyewitnesses to Bryant’s screaming and road rage.
“Construction workers laying pipe on the stretch of road gasped as the car swerved toward them. It
According to Cathal Kelley in the Toronto Star (“Bryant’s Deadly Duel”, September 2, 2009), construction workers who were laying pipe in the part of the road just ahead of the original incident, watched as Bryant’s car swerved toward them. “All of them said they could hear Bryant screaming.”
The following compilation of all the available witness statements consistently portray Bryant as an aggressor in the middle of a road rage episode who intentionally ran Sheppard down and meant to cause him harm. The witness statements were taken before the surveillance videos were available to the public yet they are also consistent with the images in the videos.
Eyewitness Spreadsheet – page 1
Eyewitness Spreadsheet – page 2