On August 31, 2009, former Ontario Attorney General, Michael Bryant was involved in a road rage attack that killed cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard. Bryant was arrested that evening but he did not make a statement to police. He would not make a statement until almost eight months later when he and his lawyers received complete and full disclosure of the Crown’s case. Bryant did however make a 911 call to police. After he successfully knocked Darcy Allan Sheppard off his car with a fire hydrant, Bryant fled to the Hyatt Hotel on Avenue Road just north of Bloor. It became the staging area for his defence.
Bryant described his actions in his book, “28 Seconds”
“So I turned right on Avenue Road and drove into the hotel’s circular driveway and found, I thought, sanctuary. I stopped the car and pulled up the emergency brake-for what would be the final time. I couldn’t find my cell phone. Susan offered hers.”
In a video interview with the Toronto Star, he said: “And so I pulled over and called 911. It was… police need to come and protect us.”
In his CBC interview with Amanda Lang he said: “So I drove in and called 911 and ah said, help, bring police..”
His lawyer, Marie Henein wrote in her article, “Split Seconds Matter,” “He drove to safety just around the corner to a hotel and called 911.”
What’s missing from all of these descriptions is that when Michael Bryant drove to the Hyatt Hotel, in what he described as a state of fear, he did not call 911 right away. He waited three minutes!
Mark Sandler will be this year’s recipient of the G. Arthur Martin Criminal Justice Medal for outstanding contributions to criminal justice. Richard Peck was last year’s recipient. The Award will be presented to Sandler at the Ontario Criminal Lawyers’ Association Convention on Halloween, October 31, 2015 between 1pm-3pm at the Toronto Marriot Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel. Sandler and Peck are most famous as the defence attorneys chosen to act as prosecutors in the Michael Bryant road rage case that involved his killing of Darcy Allan Sheppard.
The Ontario Criminal Lawyers Association (CLA) presents the G. Arthur Martin Criminal Justice Medal annually. Past recipients include famed defence attorneys such as John Robinette, Eddie Greenspan (Marie Henein’s mentor) and James Lockyer who founded the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted.
In his book “28 Seconds”, Michael Bryant wrote about the closeness of the Toronto criminal defence bar. He said:
“But I learned something about the criminal defence bar in Toronto. They stick together and work together to help each other, even if they’re not retained on the case. This doesn’t apply to every lawyer, but amongst those who reciprocate, there is a small group of colleagues who advance the interests of the accused, at large.”
Documentary to reveal evidence hidden from the public (Fund here)
On August 31,2009, former Ontario Attorney General, Michael Bryant killed Toronto bike messenger Darcy Allan Sheppard in a violent act of road rage. The killing was caught on video and witnessed by many people some of whom were standing a few feet from Bryant’s car.
After reviewing video and speaking with witnesses, Toronto police charged Bryant with with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death. Bryant responded by hiring PR firm Navigator and famed defence attorney Marie Henein. (Readers may remember these names as both were also hired by CBC personality and accused sexual predator, Jian Ghomeshi). Bryant claimed that his defence cost him $300,000.
Henein would later reveal that the pressure to acquit Bryant was overwhelming:
“I couldn’t get away from the legal community’s oft-expressed sentiment. The truth is that Michael Bryant was well-loved by the legal community. Many identified with him, many knew him personally, and many were utterly grief-stricken over his situation. The pressure to get the right result was, to be honest, overwhelming at times.”
Despite this pressure, Bryant’s former associates turned to that same legal community to find special prosecutors. Two criminal defence attorneys were brought in to prosecute the case, special prosecutor Richard Peck and his agent, Toronto criminal defence attorney Mark Sandler. After consultations with Bryant’s attorney, the prosecutors eventually dropped all charges during a court presentation that only presented evidence supporting Bryant and ignored all evidence that pointed to his guilt.
Toronto filmmakers are working to produce a documentary that will present ALL of the available evidence to the public including damning eyewitness testimony that was kept from the public.
Please help fund the documentary to bring the missing evidence into the public realm.
For more information and the complete story visit the documentary page on Indiegogo.
NOW Magazine has published new police video of Witness 9.12 in Michael Bryant’s killing of Darcy Allan Sheppard. The video is a police interview that took place a few hours after Bryant killed Sheppard.
Filmmaker Wayne Scott wrote an exclusive article for NOW regarding the release of this and other evidence in his upcoming documentary on the case.
“Much of what you will see and hear in Witness 9.12, the nine-minute video accompanying this story, is being viewed publicly for the first time.
Almost all of the material is from Toronto Police Service files relating to the 2009 investigation that led to criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death charges against former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant in the motor vehicle-related death of cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard.
Virtually all of this information was buried from public view for five years after all charges against Bryant were withdrawn by Richard Peck, the specially-appointed, independent prosecutor from B.C. assigned to oversee the case.”
Allan Sheppard appeared on Jesse Brown’s CANADALAND to talk about newly revealed evidence to the public in the case against Michael Bryant.
Listen to the podcast on CANADALAND and read the transcript of the new audio
“CANADALAND has obtained two eyewitness accounts of the death of Darcy Allan Sheppard. Neither has been publicly released before. They tell a very different tale of the death of Darcy Allan Sheppard than what the media has previously reported. They are followed by an interview with Sheppard’s father, Allan Sheppard”
[00:00:20] “On August 31st, 2009 Darcy Allan Sheppard was killed on Bloor Street West. Michael Bryant the former attorney general of Ontario was charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death. In the immediate aftermath much was made of Bryant’s reputation for pugnacious, aggressive behaviour the term road rage came up many times. The press paid close attention to the fact that Bryant almost instantly hired Navigator as his crisis PR team and Marie Henein as his criminal defense lawyer. But then as the days progressed the media’s focus shifted, it shifted away from Bryant’s reputation and onto Darcy Allan Sheppard’s. Sheppard we were told was a squeegee punk, bike messenger, a drunk also, aggressive and confrontational. Less than a year later all charges against Michael Bryant was dropped. The crown prosecutor proclaimed that Sheppard had been the aggressor and produced a photo of Darcy Allan Sheppard mohawked and half naked, screaming into the driver’s side window of a different car. Since then Michael Bryant has been telling his side of the story again and again.” Jesse
Wayne Scott has obtained and provided to CANADALAND audio tape of the two closest eyewitnesses to the initial altercation between Bryant and Sheppard.
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 record 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 vents 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.