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Monday, September 14, 2009

Video of Bryant-Sheppard Incident

The recent incident involving former attorney general Michael Bryant in his car and the late Darcy Allan Sheppard on his bicycle has become somewhat of a class conflict. Those of my friends who are well-heeled seem to instinctively defend Bryant’s actions as understandable under the circumstances. Others in more average circumstances seem to have more sympathy for the unfortunate Sheppard.

My take has always been that there was fault on both sides. Having taken the time to study video footage of the incident released on YouTube, however, I am more of the opinion that Bryant’s actions are inexcusable and likely criminal.

The following video was sent to me accompanied by this message:

“Please take a look at the links below to YouTube videos (surveillance camera footage) showing what happened exactly – at Bay & Bloor in Toronto - between cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard and motorist Michael Bryant. The clips appeared on City TV hours after the accident, yet the media continues to imply Sheppard chased the car down on foot in a rage after a minor collision.

“In the footage, Bryant loses patience after the light turns green - first uses the car to intimidate Sheppard. Then strikes him and pushes him ten feet. Bryant then puts it in Reverse then Drive and guns it past Sheppard. As the cyclist struggles to get up, he grabs the passing car mirror to try to keep the car at the scene.”

The video is of poor quality, but there is a larger version on YouTube if you prefer. Take a look and decide for yourselves.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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14 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. Looks to me from your video that Bryant was negligent and sideswiped him, but then Sheppard jumped onto the side of the car and grabbed the steering wheel.

    I don't want to simplify it too much by saying two wrongs don't make a right, but just because Bryant may have been wrong in hitting him, it doesn't mean he is responsible for Sheppard's death, and certainly not criminally responsible.

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  2. Whoa, OSL, first you write, "… Bryant was negligent and sideswiped him…".

    Then you write, "… it doesn't mean he is responsible for Sheppard's death, and certainly not criminally responsible."

    If Bryant did sideswipe a cyclist and the cyclist died as a result, your conclusion would seem to be illogical.

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  3. I think you mean well heeled for affluent people.

    But to leave the scene of an accident...

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  4. I find it very unusual that the Liberals are so adamant on defending Bryant, I'll be voting for Ignatieff whether Bryant walks or not.

    What is clear from the video is that Bryant did not sideswipe Sheppard, he rammed him — The video shows front and centre contact of Bryant's bumper with the rear tire of Sheppard's bicycle — OSL, you can plead ignorance, but you're doing your party a disservice.

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  5. Except for the fact that he did not die as a result.

    Sheppard died because he was holding on to a car and his body hit a mailbox, not because he was sideswiped. No one questions that fact.

    The issue of Sheppard's death is whether Bryant swerved into the opposite lane to try to knock him off his car or because Sheppard grabbed Bryant's steering wheel and yanked it.

    There are clearly three incidents here: (1) car hits cyclist, (2) cyclist grabs onto side of car, and (3) car accelerates and knocks cyclist into mailbox.

    It appears clear from the video that Bryant caused (1). It is clear from the video that the cyclist did (2). What we don't know and can't tell from the video is who caused the car to swerve in incident (3) and that is the critical piece to laying any blame and criminal responsibility for the death.

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  6. There were both jerks, but that's not what the question is.

    Once you do something highly irresponsible such as pushing a bike with your car, you pretty much assume responsibility for the aftermath.

    Criminal negligence. 15 years making little rocks out of big rocks. Next case.

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  7. Ted Betts, good comment. I'll leave further speculation about criminal responsibility to the courts. Having said that, I don't think the evidence as it is publicly known looks good for Mr. Bryant. His will be an up-hill battle.

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  8. Old School Liberal, there's NO WAY you can tell from a video that grainy that Sheppard grabbed onto the steering wheel. All we know for sure is that he grabbed onto some part of the car.

    Ted Betts, you left out a key incident from your timeline: 1) car hits cyclist, 1.5) car tries to flee the scene - in other words, tries to commit a hit and run, 2) cyclist grabs onto side of car (presumably to try to force the car to remain at the scene of the collision and accept responsibility for wrecking his bike), etc.

    So, at bare minimum, Bryant is guilty of assault and trying to flee the scene of a crime.

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  9. Greg: You misunderstood me, probably deliberately.

    I was not trying to minimize Bryant's actions or responsibility by saying sideswipe. As noted in my comments, he clearly is at fault for that. To me it seemed like he was trying to get by him and hit him. Regardless, I was not trying to excuse that first incident or driving away.

    Rabbit, you are quite ignorant of the law or of ethical standards to say that Bryant should be held responsible because he hit a cyclist. Even without knowing more facts, the culpability and the charges for the two events would be entirely separate.

    And we do have more facts: Sheppard was beligerant throughout the day, drank heavily, had been visited by the police already that day and had 60 warrants for his arrest in Alberta. A criminal can still be wronged and we should not assume that because of all of that that Bryant was not at fault. But it certainly raises the distinct and real possibility that Bryant felt he was being attacked when Sheppard approached and reached into his car.

    If you want to call that "defending" Bryant, then you would make a pretty crappy attorney.

    I have no doubt in my mind that if this was not a Liberal, conservatives would have been on Bryant's side for defending himself from a hippie criminal.

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  10. OSL, your comment, "I have no doubt in my mind that if this was not a Liberal, conservatives would have been on Bryant's side for defending himself from a hippie criminal." is to malign all conservatives as idiots and bigots.

    Many of all political stripes are upset that a former attorney general acted as seen on the video. You have nothing but your own unfounded judgment on which to base such slander/libel. Come on, you're better than that.

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  11. wow.
    cannot believe how ignorant some of these remarks are, especially OSL.
    What bearing does political references have on this case? Absolutely none.

    Let's be clear, there is NO EVIDENCE ANYWHERE THAT DARCY GRABBED THE STEERING WHEEL.
    To "speculate" as such is to make things up. To state as fact is to lie.

    The aggressive act of using your car to deliberate knock someone on to the pavement is alone a criminal act.

    Darcy had no time to "approach" the vehicle. It was already in motion and fleeing while he was still coming to his senses after being hit by the car, and had only a split second to try and stop the act of hit and run.
    Once he was holding on to the car, it sped away so rapidly that he could not have let go without risking serious injury.
    He was captive to the motion of the car and the decisions of Bryant.

    OSL, the statements you make are irresponsible and just plain stupid.

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  12. There is a key phrase in Canadian law:

    "Ought to have known" (or some variation thereof)

    Hands up anyone here who thinks that ramming a guy with your car won't injure that person. Hands up if you think that person won't attempt to stop you when you attempt to flee the scene.

    What the prosecution needs to prove is that Bryant ought to have known that ramming the cyclist would have injured him. And that he ought to have known that he would try to prevent him from fleeing the scene.

    Thus, the cyclists actions were entirely predictable and making Bryant wholly at fault.

    I hope Bryant gets locked away for a long long time.

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  13. Society forgives behaviours caused by fear all the time and condemns that same behaviour caused by rage. We are supposed to control our rage and not indulge in it.
    When Bryant rams the bycycle it strongly suggests an action taken in rage... an assault actually. Then he zooms off (at a reported 60 miles per hour) with the bicyclist hanging on. It would appear that he continues in rage. Now if he wanted to just get away from the cyclist he wouldn't have to drive much more that 10-15 kilometers and hour not at 60 miles (and apparently trying to knock him off by aiming for objects at deadly speed). Can he argue that any of his actions were logical? No he can't . Clearly his actions are that of an enraged person and society finds that unacceptable. Too bad that it happened to a powerful person but in our society people have to account for their violent behaviour.

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