This is justice?

June 3, 2010

By Bob Mionske

Bicycling Magazine’s Road Rights, June 3, 2010

original piece is here

Lawyer Bob Mionske at Bicycling Magazine published this well written piece about the case today.

When a cyclist is killed by a driver, justice is nearly always stacked toward the driver. And in this case in Toronto, the scales were tilted even more than usual.

By Bob Mionske

On August 31, 2009, the worlds of two strangers collided in the posh Bloor Street shopping district of Toronto. In the aftermath, one of those strangers, a bicycle messenger, lay dead, while the other stranger, the former Attorney General of Ontario and a rising political star, stood accused of causing the cyclist’s death.

About a year later, on Tuesday, May 25, 2010, Richard Peck, the special prosecutor appointed to try the case, dropped all charges against Michael Bryant, the former Attorney General accused of causing the death of bicycle messenger Darcy Allan Sheppard.

I can’t say I didn’t see this coming.

From the beginning, this case involved more than just an encounter between a cyclist and a motorist gone awry. As I noted in When Worlds Collide , issues of race, class, and power were a subtext to this case from the moment that Bryant shut off his car’s ignition in the driveway of a luxury hotel, after fleeing the scene where Darcy Sheppard lay dying in the street.

With these undercurrents, it was apparent that no less than the rule of law was at stake in this case. As explained in an article by Rick Bernardi that appeared in Dandyhorse :

The rule of law means that a nation is governed by laws, rather than by the caprices of the powerful few. It means, among other things, that nobody, rich or poor, powerful or powerless, is above the law. It means that even the powerless can find justice under the law, and that even the powerful can be brought to justice. It’s an idea that is ingrained in western society.

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Michael Bryant’s case put over again. Police re-interview witnesses.

April 15, 2010

Mess Media, April 14, 2010

The prosecution of Michael Bryant continues to crawl its way through the justice system he once ran, as his case is once again delayed.

Vancouver-based lawyer Richard Peck reviewed the evidence against the former Ontario Attorney-General and decided a follow-up investigation was necessary.

Toronto lawyer, Mark Sandler, representing the Crown informed provincial court Justice Paul Bentley that police would be re-interviewing witnesses and conducting further forensic tests.

During his time as Ontario attorney general, Bryant was responsible for appointing Ontario judges and prosecutors. Peck has been brought in from Bryant’s home province of British Columbia as prosecutor to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.

The case was put over until May 25 at 9:30 am.

Bryant’s lawyer, Marie Henein was supposed to indicate in court today how Bryant wishes to be tried. He may choose to be tried in the Ontario Court of Justice in front of a judge only, or in the higher court, the Superior Court in front of a judge alone or a judge and jury.

Bryant, 44, is charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death in relation to the death of cyclist Darcy Allan (AL) Sheppard, 33, after a traffic altercation on August 31, 2009.

Video evidence shows Bryant deliberately rammed his car into Sheppard from behind before attempting to flee the scene of the attack. Sheppard grabbed on to his car and Bryant fled with Sheppard attached.

Witnesses then say that Bryant sped away at about 90 km/hr on the wrong side of the road. He mounted the curb and intentionally drove into obstacles to knock Sheppard off his car. Sheppard died from the resulting multiple collisions.

Michael Bryant once again did not appear in court.

Bryant’s lawyers meeting behind closed doors for pre-trial November 30

November 29, 2009

Michael Bryant was a no show for his first two court appearances on October 19 and November 16.

Provincial Court Justice Paul Bentley, will meet behind closed doors with the all parties for a judicial pre-trial on November 30.

Bryant’s next court date is December 7, 2009. Torontonians are anxiously awaiting his first appearance in court.

Michael Bryant was charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death after running over and dragging cyclist, Darcy Allan Sheppard, on August 31, 2009.

Beyond a reasonable doubt

November 4, 2009

Mess Media, November 4, 2009

Lawyer Michael Cochrane wrote a piece in The Mark advocating the acquittal of Michael Bryant in the killing of Darcy Allan Sheppard. The problem with reading anything written by lawyers is that they sometimes cherry pick the facts and set up flimsy straw men to knock over.

Here is Cochrane`s list of the”facts” that the Court will hear in Bryant`s case:

1. He was driving home with his wife from an anniversary celebration, moving slowly through an area under construction on Bloor Street.
2. While stopped, angry words were exchanged with Sheppard.
3. Sheppard appears to have been impaired and had just left a confrontation with police.
4. Sheppard struck Bryant’s vehicle with his courier bag.
5. Sheppard grabbed onto Bryant’s car, and possibly Bryant himself.
6. A struggle ensued, as the vehicle careened down the wrong side of Bloor Street.
7. Sheppard fell and was killed.

Let’s take a closer look at Cochrane’s facts in detail and compare them with the current public knowledge of the evidence
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Did Bryant’s passenger slap him just before he purposely rammed Sheppard?

October 18, 2009

A digital stabilzation by Honest Edits on youtube raises the question – did Michael Bryan’ts passenger slap him just before he rammed his car car into Darcy Allan Sheppard?

From Honest Edits:

New details are apparent:

– Passenger seems to slap Bryant at 0:01, reaching across with right arm. The top of his head can be seen over the windshield moving back suddenly. This is clearer time scrubbing in my edit software than online.

– Steering angle of the front wheels can be seen to move several times. Bryant’s hand on the steering wheel can be seen through the windshield.

– Sheppard’s backpack can be distinguished as he rides. His body position is more apparent when stopped.

From Wesley McLean to Darcy Allan Sheppard – A Lesson 75 years in the making

October 1, 2009

The death of Toronto bike messenger Wesley McLean in 1934 has a lesson for the case against Michael Bryant

Mess Media, October 1, 2009

The tragic death of Toronto bike messenger, Darcy Allan Sheppard and the resulting charges faced by Michael Bryant highlights the risks cyclists endure on our roads and the challenge all road users cope with sharing our streets.

But this is not an unfamiliar situation for Toronto. Cyclists and motorists have confronted these challenges for at least a hundred years with little progress.

Seventy-five years ago, in 1934, another Toronto bike messenger was the victim of a selfish and negligent driver whose only concern was himself. Similarly to Michael Bryant, the killer from long ago employed advocates to construct a narrative that blamed the dead victim.

Downtown Toronto streets in the 1930’s were not much different than today. The glory days of cars from the 1950’s through the 1970’s were yet to come. Cyclists, pedestrians, motorists and streetcars shared the roads and cyclists were well represented in the mix.

The streets were filled with hundreds of bicycle messengers too. They worked for telegraph companies, courier companies, department stores and drug stores. In 1937, the Tamblyn Drug Store chain boasted of employing over 300 Toronto bicycle messengers in their drug stores alone.

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Couriers launch their own PR blitz over handling of cyclist’s traffic death

September 25, 2009

Globe and Mail, September 25, 2009

By Anthony Reinhart

In a bid to counter “damning” media portrayals of the cyclist killed in a collision with ex-politician Michael Bryant’s car last month, a bicycle couriers’ group is launching its own public relations effort today.

The Toronto Bike Messenger Association, officially silent since Darcy Allan Sheppard’s death on Aug. 31, is to break that silence at a 2 p.m. news conference organized by a small communications company working pro bono on its behalf.

The couriers’ use of a public relations adviser, albeit one from a modest outfit, is a response to Mr. Bryant’s having turned to Navigator Ltd., a high-end crisis management firm, in the hours after he was charged in Mr. Sheppard’s death.

The former Ontario attorney-general, accused of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death, is to make his first court appearance Oct. 19.

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Bike couriers association calls press conference to counter negative media portrayal of “special friend” Darcy Allan Sheppard

September 23, 2009

From Wiedman Communications

Toronto – 230909 // The Toronto Bike Messenger Association (TOBMA) has called a press conference for this Friday at 2:00 pm. They want to speak ahead of their Saturday, September 26 evening memorial celebration to raise money for the children of Darcy Allan Sheppard, and help his family pay for his burial.

Since the cyclist lost his life in a high-profile accident with Michael Bryant on August 31, TOBMA has chosen to remain silent, making no “official statements” until emotions had calmed. In that time, major media including Maclean’s, Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star have featured articles damning the life, personality and background of their co-worker Al Sheppard.

Mark Hayward, Marli Epp and Brian Harris, Toronto Bike Messenger Association

1 – Official statement from TOBMA
2 – Remembering Darcy Allen Sheppard
3 – “Victim Impact Statements” from friends / co-workers, on the negative media spin on Al in the days following the accident.

Friday, September 25 – 2:00 pm to 2:30

Sneaky Dee’s, 431 College Street @ Bathurst

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The Evidentiary Narrative

September 20, 2009

By Mess Media, September 20, 2009

In our previous post we looked at the Navigator Narrative of the events that led to the killing of Darcy Allan Sheppard by Michael Bryant. In this post we look at the original narrative – the Evidentiary Narrative.

The Evidentiary Narrative emerged immediately after Sheppard’s death as it was witnessed by many people and filmed by security cameras.

The Globe and Mail reported that Toronto Police Traffic Services Sgt. Tim Burrows said

many witnesses had come forward and video from personal handheld devices and security footage had assisted in the investigation.

Security Camera footage showed Michael Bryant’s black Saab convertible stopped at a light. Sheppard entered the view passing Bryant’s car and pulling to a stop in front of him at the light. When the light turned green Sheppard didn’t immediately move. Bryant moved his car forward, first a little bit and then with greater force he rammed in to the back of Sheppard’s bike pushing him forward and knocking Sheppard to the ground.

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The Navigator Narrative from Michael Bryant

September 19, 2009

Mess Media, September 19, 2009

Michael Bryant in custody

Michael Bryant in custody

In the aftermath of the killing of Darcy Allan Sheppard the media has referred to two conflicting narratives in describing the events that led to Mr Sheppard’s death. One narrative, the “Evidentiary Narrative” took shape based on security camera footage and eyewitness testimony. The other, the “Navigator Narrative” took shape shortly after accused killer, Michael Bryant hired Brian Mulroney’s public relations firm Navigator Ltd.

A week later we now have the second wave of Navigator’s plan – attack the revelations that the Navigator Narrative has no credence. The Globe and Mail’s Joe Friesen in an article entitled “Michael Bryant’s Spin Class” leads the way by claiming the Navigator Narrative MAY have came from old fashioned reporting but did it?

Friesen reveals that even PR experts admit that Navigator is the source for the Navigator Narrative.

Several leading PR experts said they assumed that the story’s changing tone was due at least in part to tips and sources provided to reporters by Navigator. They thought Navigator had encouraged reporters to ask about the movements of victim Darcy Allan Sheppard on the night he died, or pointed them in the direction of his 61 criminal charges, or raised doubts about who was the aggressor in reporters’ minds.

Friesen also admits Navigator was

handing out press releases and generally letting it be known that they were now in charge of Mr. Bryant’s communications.

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