Friday August 31 will be the 9th anniversary of the day former Attorney General for Ontario and current executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Michael Bryant, attacked and killed Indigenous cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard. Over the next year I will be posting articles going through every detail of the evidence revealing never before seen video, pictures and details that special prosecutors Richard Peck and Mark Sandler chose to keep from the public.
Let’s begin by introducing Darcy Allan Sheppard though this except from Jennifer Wells’ ebook “Lost Boy: The Death of Darcy Allan Sheppard”
“It’s a lovely little thing,” says Martha McOuat of her pale blue metallic scooter, a sweet Vespa 50 that she rides when the weather is warm and the pavement dry.
McOuat sounds a bit surprised to be tracked down, but she’s happy to chat, recalling as best she can the spring day four years ago when she exited her office at the Ontario Power Authority — McOuat was a senior policy analyst — only to find the scooter badly scratched on one side.
As usual, she had locked the Vespa to a broken bike rack on the northwest corner of Sheppard and Adelaide Sts. The corner was a bike-courier hangout — the messenger office was just up the street — and Darcy Allan Sheppard and his courier brethren would gather there before and after work. McOuat’s initial concerns about leaving her “bourgeois little machine” in such company were put to rest upon reports of the couriers keeping a watchful eye over it. Until that spring day when she came upon the scooter, scraped and scratched.
Late to work the following morning, McOuat, who had wondered whether it was time to find a new parking spot, followed her set pattern, heading for the broken bike rack, where she found “Al” Sheppard, as he was known to the couriers, waiting for her.
“Miss,” he said. “I was the one who knocked your bike over yesterday. It was an accident and I’m really sorry.”
Sheppard offered to fix the scooter. “I knew there was no way he was going to be able to do that,” McOuat says. “But I was so impressed that he told me about it in the first place. I would never have known, and I wouldn’t have had any way of finding out and he didn’t have to come and tell me. But he did. I was so impressed by that.”
Clearly, paying for the damage was beyond Sheppard’s reach. He then offered to bake McOuat a cake, an offer she declined. In the weeks that followed the two exchanged daily pleasantries. Sheppard would break off conversations with his buddies to greet McOuat; he would chivalrously move bikes out of her way. “He was a very good-looking guy,” she says, describing his intense blue eyes as “mesmerizing.” In the last conversation they shared, Sheppard talked about the extra work he had picked up, providing street security for a film company.
To McOuat, the honourable man she had come to know was unrecognizable in the media coverage that followed his death. The tone of it, she says, “incensed” her. She wrote a letter to the Sheppard family, telling them the scooter story. She dropped it off at the courier office, hoping it would find its way to them, and sent a condensed version to a newspaper — she can’t remember which.
“Allan was an honest, hardworking guy with a friendly smile and an outgoing manner,” she wrote. “While he played only a tiny part in my life, I have been disproportionately struck by his death and the horrible circumstances surrounding it. I can’t imagine the enormous hole felt by those who were close to him.”
The letter was never published.
Four years later, McOuat is pleased to hear that a thorough exploration of Darcy Allan Sheppard, the man in full, is in the works. “I would have liked that side to get out, you know?”
Read the rest of Jennifer Wells’ ebook “Lost Boy: The Death of Darcy Allan Sheppard”