[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.
Full Transcript of the eyewitness recording from a homicide squad interview conducted the day after Sheppard’s death.
[00:04:14] Eyewitness: “There at the stoplight was a car and a bicyclist. They were stopped at the lights and the first thing I certainly noticed was the cyclist was it, it my first image as I recall was pulling up in front of the car and had a smile on his face, the cyclist did, I’m going to piss you off type of smile to the driver and pulled his, his bike right in front of the uh of the hood, uh blocking his way. And, and it was, it was weird because you saw that there was something an altercation going on you could just see, it’s uh I don’t know where it started, I don’t know how it began but certainly there uh there was an altercation taking place. And uh I looked at the car it was a convertible and I noted that there were two people in the car uh a man and a woman. And the thing that really struck me even at that point in time was that there were no, there was no verbal altercation between the two. Absolutely none. Uhh the driver was stone-faced uh, passive, and the woman was also just sitting there so there weren’t, there was certainly not any screaming at this point in time. So the cyclist as I said was right in front of the car and the car then moved forward very slowly, onto his back wheel and then the cyclist fell off his bike and again you know the, the thing again that strikes me is I mean we’ve all been guilty of certainly getting frustrated with other drivers, in some ex-expletives or stuff but there was n-no dialogue at all. Uhh the fella fell off his bike urgh he got up, picked up his bike, got on his bike again and for some reason the car then accelerates at a very high speed and knocked the fella onto the front of his car. You know it was at that point you think to yourself if this is where the guys should’ve just said you know, he shh-, the driver in my opinion should’ve just said ah this is not worth it I’m going to get out of here and I’ll scream and yell at my wife or whatever later on but, so he, he hit him, he hit him full on at uh at high speed. The cyclist obviously would’ve fell off the car and fell onto the driver’s side of the car, the bike then was in the middle of the road, the guy got up and the car started to move away and I would say that the cyclist ran after the car. B-but the car had to maneuver around the bike, the cyclist then somehow latched onto the car um and from what I saw he had his hand inside the car and it was either on the headrest or on the uh um the driver’s door on the inside of the driver’s door and that’s when the car just uhh the fella put his foot maximum gas and uh, and uh, and took this cyclist away with him and then as the car dragged him and there were sparks coming out from under the car uh the fella was not letting go and, and to be honest with you, I mean it’s one of those things when you look at it you think well if he let’s go, he may have a chance you know with some severe damage, but that car was going very, very fast. And then it swerved it going uhh going west onto the other side of the road because there’s road works there, and uh and, and I and that’s where when it went in front of the utili-, the first utility van parked um closer to Avenue Road is what we, we lost sight of the end result.”
Interviewer: “How would you describe the style of driving that you saw from the driver?”
Eyewitness: “I mean uh,…I mean it’s, it’s almost broken down in stages right I think the first time when he nudged his tire was like look you asked, you know this is uh, you know I’m going to show you sort of thing you know, and then after that it was uh – you know I mean uh, I mean he hit the guy. He, he, he, as far as I’m concerned and I’ll say it anywhere he, he purposely hit that guy. And uh and, and as far as I’m concerned he could’ve like all of us, I’m, I’m you know, I’m as bad as anyone else in terms of uh you know getting frustrated with people on the road but you know you make a decision right at a point in time where you can either, you know but, but he had an opportunity he certainly had an opportunity that second time to – it’s not like the guy ran in front of the car to be hit by the car.”
Eyewitness: “He hit him full on.”
Full Transcript of the 911 call made by the other eyewitness just moments after the incident occurred.
[00:09:24] 911 Eyewitness Caller: My, Hello my husband’s actually called in he’s on the phone right now telling the number plate …
Officer: Oh ok he’s already…
911 Eyewitness Caller: You got to get someone down here because the guy is bleeding like hell and he’s…
Officer: We’re, We’re already on our way, we’re already on our way.
911 Eyewitness Caller: But like the guy who’s driving the car, I can’t even begin to tell you what a *censored* idiot like he was like out to kill this guy …
Officer: Ok and he’s on …
911 Eyewitness Caller: On purpose, like it was hideous, he, he took him out like maybe three times, hits this guy in front of his car and he drove on the wrong side of the road with the guy trying to swing him off …
Officer: Oh ok and …
911 Eyewitness Caller: And there’s blood everywhere …
[00:09:54] “Allan Sheppard hearing that eye witness account of the killing of your son Darcy Allan was chilling for me, because it contrasted so radically with my understanding of what happened between him and Michael Bryant as I had read it in the press. How would you characterize that disparity? How would you characterize how the media portrayed that tragic incident to the public?” Jesse
“Well the media had the wool pulled over their eyes, the same as I did if you recall the uh first coverage of the dropping of the charges uh I did a media scrum along with the prosecutor uh Richard Peck and I basically indicated that I would went along with what had been decided reluctantly because I thought that it was a case of class-based uh justice, the rich and powerful guy got a lot of uh attention and respect from the system and my son was basically treated as road kill. I expressed that but I expressed an acceptance of the decision and the media were working with the same material I was working with which was the statement made by special prosecutor Richard Peck’s to the court explaining the decision, and it was at the time overwhelming to me. I mean the evidence was just piling up and piling up and piling up against my own knowledge of what had, of what my son’s past was. It confirmed my worst fears, uh it wasn’t until some months later when I actually got that copy of the transcript of what Mr. Peck said and read through it and also by that time I had some emotional distance from the situation as well, and I could see that there were vast holes that, that, that there, in what he said. There were many cases where when he was aware, he Mr. Peck was aware of inconsistencies and holes in the evidence that was being put forward by him on behalf of the defense, he made special efforts to fill those holes. So uh go back to your initial question the media were fed a very carefully crafted, very well-spun and manipulated story, I would say that the media, some of them at least, the experienced court reporters among them shouldn’t have been, they shouldn’t have allowed themselves to have been that totally taken in. Where was the skepticism? Where was the questioning? Where was the uh second holding somebody to account? They bought into it, almost totally.” Sheppard
[00:13:00] Jesse contrasts the eyewitnesses story with Leah McLaren’s Cover Story.
[00:15:58] “It’s what happened when Mr. Bryant’s car hit my son and whether or not that was deliberate as this witness says or it was accidental due to fear and panic and starting and stalling as Mr. Bryant says, that was never tested in court. Uh, it was uh, the version that was put forward was the version of the incident given by Mr.Bryant to Mark Sandler who was Richard Peck’s agent in Toronto for the investigation and who conducted and controlled to a large extent the police investigation. Mr. Bryant gave his version of the story without prejudice, without meaning that it was not sworn, it wasn’t cross-examined, all this, in other words none of this could be used against him in court so the version that comes out is uh, from Mr.Peck is Bryant’s version of the event.”
“So both the crown prosecutor and Toronto Life Magazine are presenting Michael Bryant’s side of this?” Jesse
“Yes, absolutely!” Sheppard
[00:17:06] Jesse talks about how the media’s stories of Darcy Allan Sheppard influences people to sympathize with Michael Bryant and says the facts presented in the media seems to be very much in dispute.
“Well you’re reacting in the way you were expected to act by the people who wrote that description beginning with Marie Henein and Mr.Bryant initially and then followed up with Mr. Peck and Mr.Sandler later. Basically taking over the theory of the case that was the defenses version and presenting uh to the court and to the media as fact. And it was never ever tested under trial conditions.” Sheppard
“We’re leaving out one of the parties that played a role in crafting this narrative which is Navigator.” Jesse
“I think Navigator’s role is perhaps overstated I think they had a role. I’m quite convinced in spite of Mr. Bryant’s protestations of helplessness in this situation that he was in pretty much in full control the situation of what happened from the time of the incident until the charges were dropped. He was already in his call to 911 saying to the 911 operator that my son took a swing at him as he went passed. If you look at the video again, if you talk to people who were at the scene, my son never took a swing at him, he couldn’t he was passing the car too quickly and too far away. But the notion that my son took a swing at him or might have taken a swing at him is necessary right from the beginning to establish a foundation of self-defense.” Sheppard
“Well and in fact, Peck and his executive summary wrote the evidence establishes that Mr. Sheppard was the aggressor in the altercation.” Jesse
“Well yes, because that’s required under law. They have to identify an aggressor, unfortunately the law is a zero sum either or gain right?” Sheppard
“I can accept that as lawyers you would decide that you couldn’t get a conviction given my son’s background and the kinds of things you expressed, the general perception of messengers, and bike um cyclists and how they behave. I cannot accept you’re going beyond that and exonerating Mr. Bryant and saying he had no part in the uh, in in uh, what happened and Mr. Sandler said we didn’t say that and I said of course you did, you said specifically Mr. Sheppard was the aggressor and he comes back at me and says well yes he was. I mean that’s the position that has to be established in order to justify dropping the charges.” Sheppard
“And they established that based on that he aggressed by placing his bike in front of Michael Bryant’s car?” Jesse
“No, no.” Sheppard
“How did he aggress?” Jesse
“They established that with the six previous witnesses, it’s a uh, a very devious, manipulative, underhanded process that went on. They established with six witnesses and my son had a record of being aggressive with drivers.” Sheppard
“Okay. And some of those cases at least including one with a very dramatic photograph in which my son actually grabs onto the side of the car and appears to reach into it.” Sheppard
“In a previous case.” Jesse
“Yes, previous, previous cases, previous cases.” Sheppard
[00:21:24] “Michael Bryant has a previous reputation as well. What happened in this incident?” Jesse
“Here you get into uh, the basis of the decision was a scopelliti defense as it’s called okay. Scopelliti defense basically allows the defendant to use the past behaviour of a victim to justify current behaviour, if there is a pattern established by the defense of aggression in similar circumstances. So those six witnesses establish a pattern of aggression by my son against drivers so when you have another situation that happens on Bloor Street West where my son grabs onto a car, that behaviour referenced back to previous history where my son was supposedly, never tested in court at all, the aggressor.” Sheppard
[00:23:07] “But we also can expect the prosecutors would put that evidence, those claims, those assertions, that theory of the case to a test and they didn’t. They did not, they simply accepted what you see in that summary is a summary of Marie Henein, Mr. Bryant’s lawyer, her theory of the case, it was almost to the point where I suspected that she uh either wrote it, or uh it was either taken and precede by uh the prosecution or whatever. It was originated with her.” Sheppard
“Why? Why would the prosecution go along with that? It’s contrary to what they exist to do.” Jesse
“Uhh well, that’s a good question. Is it because my son was a messenger and Mr. Bryant was part of the establishment in Toronto? Uh that’s one interpretation. Is it because uh without having to anybody to having to say so Mr. Peck and Mr. Sandler understood that the case had to be swept under the rug for the convenience of the uh government. Remember, the government I think at that time was expecting to have to go to an election. They certainly did not want this trial, if it had’ve gone to trial running at the time uh when an election was was going uh the polls I think were saying Mcguinty government was in trouble. If you read some of the things that Marie Henein has written recently uh she talks about being under tremendous pressure from her peers in the legal community to get what she calls the right decision. If she was under that pressure do you think Mr. Sandler was not? Mr. Peck wasn’t here of course so it was uh, Mr. Sandler representative of the uh prosecution, in the investigation. There was apparently according to Marie Henein a consensus among the elite legal establishment in this city that Mr. Bryant should be let go.” Sheppard
[00:25:58] “The CBC is not the mouthpiece for the establishment it’s the public broadcaster and yet, Amanda Lang was the one who interviewed Michael Bryant in a feature interview on the National. There was a complaint to the Ombudsperson because Amanda Lang does not say on the outside of that interview I’m about to interview Michael Bryant I have to make a disclosure. About 13 minutes in she slips in I have known you a long time. It’s sort of a strange thing as he’s been given this forum to just, for you know a very long time tell his side of the story…” Jesse
[00:28:12] “What link if any can you draw between Peck and Bryant?” Jesse
“Not directly between Peck and Bryant but I go back to uh, the statement by Marie Henein that she was under pressure to get the right decision. And where was that pressure coming from? At the level that we’re talking about of lawyers in this country, they all know each other. I don’t suggest that Peck and Bryant are close, they both come from BC, they both went to the same university; different generations, Mr. Bryant’s father went as far as I’ve heard they were members of the same fraternity, they’re certainly members of the same law society ethic. There are all kinds of connections that go between lawyers at that level and nobody has to sit down actually and have a conspiratorial agreement. You have as I sometimes put it, they just swim in different pool than the rest of us do. Understand that what was said by the witness that you played at the beginning that was never tested in court either. Those people are all set aside in what Mr. Peck says in his statement as for the witnesses on the scene there were consistencies and inconsistencies but the one consistency was that Mr. Sheppard was loud and aggressive throughout. And that’s directly contradicted by what this witness says, he says they said nothing, he was surprised.” Sheppard
[00:30:24] “Evidence says that my son says two things. One of which was when he stop in front of the car he turned and said quite quietly, I suppose you want me to move now. And the other one was when he got up from the street, as Mr. Bryant was already driving away, which is directly contradictory to any suggestion that my son grabbed the wheel and made it cross over to the other side of the street, as he got up he pointed to people around and say you people are my witnesses. Why would he say that? He obviously felt as you said earlier that he had been assaulted by Mr. Bryant in his vehicle.” Sheppard
Jesse talks about the initial reaction of skepticism about how quickly Bryant hired Navigator (founded by Jaime Watts who was convicted of fraud) and the articles about the spin.
[00:32:35] “Allan like I don’t know if there are legal concerns that prevent you from just saying this, I mean can you just say it. Did Michael Bryant kill your son?” Jesse
“Well, yes I can say Michael Bryant killed my son whether or not he killed him deliberately is another issue. I think he ran him down deliberately and I think having done that and having realized what he had done, I think he fled the scene and should’ve been charged.” Sheppard
“I mean that’s what it sounds like, your son was grabbing onto the car as Bryant was fleeing the scene.” Jesse
“Yes, that’s what the witness and his wife both say. Because my son chased after the car and grabbed onto it, I think because he wanted not to keep Mr. Bryant from running away because he wanted to see him charged or whatever. He wanted to get money to fix his bike cause his bike had been wrecked.” Sheppard
[00:34:37] “There are two conflicting versions, one of which was that Mr. Bryant essentially lost control of the car due to fear and panic, and he was so frightened that he lost his ability to coordinate a manual shift car.” Sheppard
“My interpretation or my alternative theory of the case for trial before a jury would’ve been the car moved forward three times at least and the first two were simply nudges forward to try to intimidate my son to get out of the way. The third one he may have, but this would be in anger.” Sheppard
“He didn’t lose control of the car and panic three times right?” Jesse
“He lost control because he was angry. Road rage was the first interpretation that came out in the media and where did they get that? They got it from the police. Where did the police get that? They got that from this witness. Media coverage at the beginning was that he and his wife were coming home from a romantic tete a tete dinner celebrating their 12th wedding anniversary. As he tells it they had a serious argument if not outright fight over her desire to leave the marriage. So, he was coming back from having had a very difficult conversation with his wife, feeling very frustrated in and ideal state according to judicial interpretations to fall a victim to road rage.” Sheppard
[00:38:55] “What are you trying to accomplish at this point?” Jesse
“What I’ve been trying to accomplish from the beginning. I think that the way that the prosecution that was conducted by Richard Peck and Mark Sandler is just unacceptable. I think it’s a perversion of justice and I want to get them one way or another, for whatever it is, if the most I can do is embarrass them then I’ll try to do that. I would like to have them tried by The Law Society of Upper Canada cause I think that they did not do their jobs, they undermined and I believe deliberately so undermined the integrity of the justice system of Ontario, and thereby all across Canada.” Sheppard
“Is there any path, any recourse through which it’s conceivable you could hold Michael Bryant accountable and actually bring him to trial?” Jesse
“No, they have, they being Mr. Peck and Mr. Sandler have put a roadblock in front of that. They have exonerated him, the media have not on the whole been friendly. The only friendliness I’ve had from the media in Toronto has been from people who are albeit almost say congeniality, politically opposed to Bryant as a liberal.” Sheppard
[00:40:49] “But Jennifer Wells at the Star had been very supportive and NOW Magazine has been very supportive. I don’t know they would like me to use the term supportive but they have listened, they have thought outside the box that has been created for them by Mr. Peck and Mr. Sandler.” Sheppard
[00:43:10] “I don’t blame the run of the mill reporters, I have some reservations about the people who have experience and responsibility in that area namely Rosie Dimanno and Christie Blatchford who are for their respected papers at the time the crime reporters.” Sheppard
“What was your impression of their coverage?” Jesse
“Well Rosie Dimanno’s I think was just like Leah McClaren, it was just a defense in such a way as also to bad mouth and trash talk my son. Christie Blatchford was more subtle when she wrote about the dropping of charges her statement was let’s face it, it was the right decision, but then went on to point out that Mr. Bryant and his lawyer were being disingenuous to say the least to say that they were treated badly by the system. And she put it at the end, he got the SAAB treatment where anybody with the same charges would’ve gotten the Volkswagen treatment.” Sheppard
“The law did not operate the same as it would if it were you or I.” Jesse
“Absolutely, and how would it have operated if positions had been reversed, if my son had been the driver and Mr. Bryant had been the cyclist and if everything else had happened exactly the same way?” Sheppard
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