Learn more about BikingToronto and Singer Kwinter

UPDATED: Charges Against Michael Bryant Have Been Dropped

Michael Bryant, wife Susan Abramovitch (left) and lawyer Marie Henin arrive at court on May 25, 2010.

Michael Bryant, as Minister of Economic Development, leaves a Queen's Park press conference in February, 2009.

UPDATE #2: Excellent write-up by the Toronto Star with all the facts and reasons for the dropping of the charges:

Peck said four of the previous incidents happened during the month of Sheppard’s death, and showed “an escalating cycle of aggressiveness toward motorists.” All of the motorists who came forward were interviewed extensively, he said, and in one case surveillance photos captured the altercation.

Peck said he was outlining the incidents because they had “significant legal relevance” and not in any way to “demonize” Sheppard or suggest he deserved what happened.

Allan Sheppard, the dead man’s adoptive father, said after that if he had been presented with the same evidence he wouldn’t have insisted on a trial. “I’m content with the result as it came,” he said on the steps outside Old City Hall.

He was asked if justice was done. “I don’t know what justice is in this circumstance. I’m not happy with the result. I’m not sure what would have made me happy.”

He said that he genuinely believes that the people who made the decision to withdraw the charges listened to him. “They talked to me with great respect and they reached a decision and I’ll accept it.”

Breaking News here… reports are that the criminal negligence causing death charges against former Attorney General Michael Bryant have been dropped:

All criminal charges have been withdrawn against former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant.  Special prosecutor Richard Peck made the surprise announcement in a Toronto courtroom Tuesday morning.

UPDATE: Here is most of the text outlining why the charges have been dropped, from the Toronto Star:

As attorney general, Bryant was once in charge of appointing Ontario judges and prosecutors. To avoid any potential conflict of interest, Vancouver lawyer Richard Peck had been brought in to prosecute the case.

Peck said given the high public interest in the case he would give a detailed outline of the case.

If the prosecution determines there is no reasonable prospect of conviction then the charge must be withdrawn, Peck told the judge in front of a courtroom packed with reporters.

“This case falls short of that standard and I’ll explain why,” the lawyer said.

He added the decision was his “mine and mine alone” and no one from Attorney General’s office had any input into the decision-making process.

Bryant, wearing a blue suit and striped purple tie, sat stoned-faced with his wife as Peck addressed the court.

Peck told court Sheppard’s history of altercations with motorists was relevant in the case.

He outlined six other incidents that came to light after Sheppard’s photograph was published and broadcast, including one in which an elderly woman described Sheppard as a “mad man.”

Sheppard’s blood alcohol level was measured after his death at 1.83, or more than twice the legal limit for driving.

Peck said four of the previous incidents happened during August 2009. They showed “an escalating cycle of aggressiveness toward motorists,” he said, and corroborate evidence given by Bryant and Abramovitch.

All of the motorists who came forward were interviewed extensively and, in one case, surveillance photos captured the altercation.

Peck said the reason he was outlining the incidents was because they had “significant legal relevance” and not in any way to “demonize” Sheppard or suggest he deserved what happened.

Media Links:

If you know more details, leave them in the comments.   We’ll update this post as needed.

  • Annie Poulin

    I’m reporter for CBC french TV and I’m looking to interview some cyclist who followed the case of Michael Bryant. I’m looking for reaction to the droping of the charges. You can reach me on my cell phone at 416-931-7912 or by email (blackberry).
    Annie Poulin

  • Thanks Annie… do you need Toronto cyclists who can speak french?

  • Darryl

    sickening that there is not justice in this

  • I was thinking that new charges might be laid as “manslaughter”… but found this definition online:
    “…Manslaughter defines a death that occurs unintentionally, but through an intentional act, not including situations of self defense or other specific situations. If you’ve done something which has caused another person’s death, and you’ve done whatever you’ve done intentionally, you’re guilty of manslaughter. So, for example, if you push somebody down the stairs, and the person dies, even if you didn’t mean to kill the person, you didn’t take steps to prevent injury or death so you are guilty of manslaughter.”

    “…not including situations of self defense…”


  • cassie

    This tragic case of irresponsible driving and road rage should teach us that we can avoid car/bike incidents with better biking infrastructure in this city.

    Stand up for cyclists this Saturday at noon with Bells on Bloor – High Park to Queen’s Park:

  • Jo

    The circumstances that led up to this event were fatal in their own right, so nobody should be entirely surprised by the results…Nonetheless, using a car as a defensive weapon should still open as a precedent for manslaughter, regardless of the circumstances…Otherwise you get a much more dangerous precedent being set instead, as it seems.

    Public perceptions are a potent force that can be manipulated, and I’m looking at the Power of PR on my blog:


    Just Sayin

  • lock – the “not in cases of self defence” is no surprise. what’s wrong here is that the charges were *dropped* based on self-defence, when in every other case charges are brought, and the issue of self defence is raised at trial.

    it’s interesting to note that while they chose a special prosecutor from out of the province “to avoid the appearance of conflict” both peck and bryant are ubc alumni, and peck has made donations to the liberal party.

  • Bob

    From the news of late the only lesson here is to Canadian children. If you become a politician you can get off on murder, drug possession and impaired driving charges. So you should become a politician if you want to get away with crimes. Way to go shitty judicial system.

  • “Criminal negligence causing death”, charge wouldn’t result in a conviction; so say Bryants’ peers.

    Smartygirl points out that Richard Peck is not with out connections to Bryant:

    “..it’s interesting to note that while they chose a special prosecutor from out of the province “to avoid the appearance of conflict” both peck and bryant are ubc alumni, and peck has made donations to the liberal party.”

    In my opinion, Lock’s comment keeps the discussion flowing in a productive direction. What charge should be brought now, that would not waste the courts time?

    The prosecutor should prefer another charge forthwith or the perception will be confirmed that there is an old boys club at work here, or that there is a law for the rich and another for the poor.

    What charge should the state prefer that would have a reasonable prospect of conviction? What should police charge Bryant with?

    There’s plenty of evidence:

    Via Joe @ Thumshift (comment above)

    Two great witnesses in this video, both City of Toronto road construction workers. First witness: “I felt sick to my stomach…”


    Dangerous driving?
    Assault with a deadly weapon?

    … one will stick I am sure…

  • He might’ve been able to grease his way past a jury thanks to the Old Boy’s Network, but Bryant will always know, in his heart of hearts, that he’s guilty of killing another human being… and for no good reason. He’ll carry out his sentence within the confines of his own conscience – the sentence to be served in front of every mirror he’ll ever look upon, to the end of his natural life.

    This miscarriage of justice is sickening to the soul – and not just as it pertains to Darcy, either. It underscores that there are two distinct sets of laws at play in 21st-century Canada: one for entitled, politically-connected fat cats in flashy cars, and another for the rest of us… the plebs that the entitled would grind beneath the wheels of their bourgemobiles.

  • Sean

    Perhaps now is the time for the city council to consider real rules for couriers. For example, all couriers should be required to wear outer garb identifying the company for which they work. All employers must provide their couriers with semi-annual tune-ups for their bicycles, and must provide evidence of those tune-ups to the province. All couriers should have to take a basic road safety test with the city police.

    The fact of the matter is this: Mr. Sheppard was not just drunk, he was downright soused. That alone is a mitigating factor when two cars collide. It should be no less so when a bicycle is involved. That he had four prior altercations with vehicles in the month prior to the incident with Mr. Bryant also suggests that Mr. Bryant was not the beneficiary of some backroom deal. Mr. Sheppard had a previous, recent record of creating problems. Mr. Bryant did not. Is anyone willing to admit that perhaps Mr. Sheppard might have shown better behaviour?

    All of that being said, those who state now that the city must do something to develop cycling infrastructure are correct. Mr, Sheppard would still be alive today if Bloor St. had a separated bike lane, as has been the subject of much discussion over the last year. It is better for everyone if we can have friendly co-existence instead of a battle for space on roads that simply do not have it.

  • SD-B

    How likely is it that someone could ride a bike if he were very drunk?

  • SD-B

    One thing that has been overlooked although I saw it in all places, the Toronto Sun…….but true, was this statement…….

    “That said, regarding all the information released Tuesday about Sheppard’s troubled past, including that he behaved aggressively in similar confrontations with six other drivers, we note the irony that evidence of prior misconduct by an accused at a criminal trial — especially of misconduct similar to that of which he stands accused — is almost always excluded as prejudicial.”

  • Just updated this post with link to an excellent write-up in the Star about the reasons behind the charges being dropped.

  • dandmb50

    Now I see why the Star/Globe does not allow comments on this story, but I don’t get it with the Star, they are read before they are posted and moderated.
    Do you think it has anything to do with the fact that Bryant is a Liberal? It’s funny that the media in Toronto have not mentioned that he was a former Liberal cabinet minister, however they did say he was a cabinet minister. Why is the Liberal part left out?
    I don’t know all the facts but it sure does seem fishy to me and I’m sure this is not the end of it. After all O.J. Simpson was acquitted too, and look what happened there. There is too much “unknown” about this case and it will be interesting to see what comes out.
    Everyone just take a deep breath and let’s see what happens, and to hold Sheppard up for bikers rights is not the right direction to go.

    Daniel … Toronto
    Get my take on bikes in the big city – http://bit.ly/akgL8w

  • dandmb50

    Cassie, I don’t think this situation with Bryant is one you want to side with bikers. It has nothing to do with responsible bikers in the city. I think it is wrong to use Sheppard as your poster boy for safe biking in the city, it was tragic all around and to connect yourself/group with this guy is the wrong way to go.

    I do think more will come forward on Bryant getting off completely free but he did kill someone and that is not right.

    Daniel … Toronto
    Get my take on biking in the city .. http://bit.ly/akgL8w

  • Christie Blatchford wrote an interesting article for the Globe and Mail yesterday:

    For Michael Bryant, an extraordinary kind of justice

    In it, she quotes special prosecutor Richard Peck from his executive summary or at the hearing where hr preffered no charges we’re not sure where all this info is coming from but this quote certainly gives us a clue:

    “Certainly, Mr. Peck said, much of the information uncovered by the continuing investigation came from the defence.”

    This is odd, and it’s the main theme of an article I’m working on; the judicial system is supposed to be a an adversarial one. The defence (Mr. Bryants lawyers) and the prosecution usually never share information – but in this case it seems the prosecution never actually did their own independent investigation – aside from the traffic services initial investigation of the “accident”.

    It appears from the lay of the land Ms. Blatchford sketches out, the crown investigation was soley to see if the defences case could be co-oberated by specialists and experts that the crown itself hired. In other words, they were going with the defences line of reasoning all the way along and were covering their butts by making sure that evidence chain would hold under scrutiny.

    So rather than coming up with a story line of their own, like the way all other criminal cases are prosecuted – a story line developed towards explaining why Mr. Bryant should go to trial – they did the opposite, they investigated towards proving the defences story line.

    No one in the process talked for Darcy Allan Sheppard, which is the Crowns role in cases like this.

  • dandmb50 said:

    “After all O.J. Simpson was acquitted too, and look what happened there.”

    I’m two minds on this: on the one hand I’m glad we don’t have the civil suit option here in Canada, it enables the plaintiff retribution that flies in the face of the fact the defendant was found innocent before a jury of his peers – it cheapen the jury system.

    On the other hand, in this case, I wish there were another avenue towards some kind of justice.

    The special prosecutor I have learned since writing in comments and my blog post yesterday has ruled out ANY charges bring brought in the future in this case.

    I think the only coarse left might be a Coroner’s Inquest, or a Judicial Inquiry.

  • SD-B

    There was a video floating around shortly after the accident. A bit grainy but it showed darcy riding his bike up right beside bryant, and then in front….it then went on to show bryant driving into darcy……the person that put this particular video together, making up for the darkness typed in as it went along, an explanation for what was what, using arrows, etc.

    Does anyone happen to have a link to the very video I am speaking of?

    TIA if so……

  • Pingback: Michael Bryant to Write Book about death of Darcy Allan Sheppard | Biking Toronto()

  • hi!,I love your writing very much! percentage we keep
    up a correspondence more approximately your article on AOL?
    I need an expert in this area to solve my problem.
    Maybe that’s you! Looking forward to peer you.

  • Hi, i believe that i noticed you visited my blog thus i got here to
    return the want?.I’m attempting to find issues to enhance my website!I guess its good enough to use some of your ideas!!

  • Very good info. Lucky me I came across your
    blog by chance (stumbleupon). I’ve saved as a favorite for later!

  • Your way of describing all in this paragraph is genuinely good, every one can without
    difficulty know it, Thanks a lot.

I Bike T.O. Shirts
available in 12 colours

I Bike T.O. Shirts
available in 12 colours

I Bike T.O. Shirts
available in 12 colours

Left Wing Pinko Shirts
available in 12 colours