Vigil held outside library for courier

Protesters oppose launch of ex-attorney general Michael Bryant’s book on his role in Sheppard’s death

About 30 demonstrators staged a vigil for bike courier Darcy Allan Sheppard outside the Toronto Reference Library, where Michael Bryant was speaking at a private event on his controversial book, 28 Seconds.

The demonstrators — many sporting bicycle helmets — stood outside the library’s Yonge Street entrance Sept. 5 holding bouquets of flowers and paper representations of a tombstone depicting Sheppard’s birth and death dates.

Inside, Bryant was scheduled to speak about his book, which is the first, detailed public account from the former St. Paul’s MPP about the fateful Aug. 31, 2009 encounter with Sheppard on Bloor Street that ended Sheppard’s life. The book also features revelations about Bryant’s own battle with alcoholism.

Protest organizer Benjamin Mueller-Heaslip said the purpose of the demonstration was to protest the book’s launch and remind people of Sheppard’s suffering.

“Al Sheppard, his life has ended,” Mueller-Heaslip said. “He’s the victim and, right now, what Michael Bryant’s doing is trying to whitewash what happened and make it seem like he’s the real victim.”

The book’s release had drawn considerable attention, not to mention outrage from those who feel Bryant is capitalizing on a tragic incident.

“I find it very self-indulgent, the book,” Mueller-Heaslip said in an interview. “It expresses a lack of empathy.”

Though prosecutors dropped criminal charges initially laid against Bryant, some at the demonstration said the former attorney-general was not sufficiently held accountable for his role in Sheppard’s death.

A demonstrator who goes by the name Smitty called Bryant’s book “self-serving drivel,” though he admitted he hadn’t read the entire book, only excerpts from it.

“I don’t buy any of his story,” said Smitty, who said he knew Sheppard casually from the bike messenger business. Smitty, who said he reviewed witness accounts and surveillance footage of the 2009 incident, called Bryant the attacker.

But prosecutors concluded Sheppard was the attacker during the encounter with Bryant’s car on Bloor Street that night. Bryant had been driving home from a wedding anniversary dinner when his car stalled and lurched toward Sheppard, who was on a bike in front of him, near Yonge Street.

According to evidence presented, Sheppard, who was intoxicated at the time, went on to the hood of the car and held on to the side of the door as Bryant steered the car into opposing lanes. Sheppard died from injuries sustained when he struck a hydrant while holding on to Bryant’s car.

Bryant was charged and subsequently resigned from his position as CEO of Invest Toronto. The charges were withdrawn in 2010.
Reached by phone on Sept. 6, Rachel Harry, Bryant’s publicist at Penguin Canada, told the Town Crier Bryant was aware of the group demonstration outside the library and “was respectful of it,” but would not be commenting on it.


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Posted: Sep 7 2012 5:36 pm
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2 thoughts on “Vigil held outside library for courier

  • September 8, 2012 at 11:32 pm
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    “According to evidence presented, Sheppard, who was intoxicated at the time, went on to the hood of the car and held on to the side of the door as Bryant steered the car into opposing lanes. Sheppard died from injuries sustained when he struck a hydrant while holding on to Bryant’s car.”

    Interesting way of articulating what happened that night, eh?

    Another way of explaining such – and what the security video depicts – would be to mention that Sheppard was knocked onto the hood of Bryant’s car when the driver plowed into the rear of the mounted cyclist’s stationary vehicle, propelling him and it at least as far as the 22 foot long scar the right pedal scraped into the surface of Bloor Street.

    When the motor vehicle did lurch to a stop, Sheppard was deposited to the pavement.

    As the just-physically-attacked but “clearly not seriously injured” – according to the apparently clairvoyant prosecutor – Sheppard got to his feet, Bryant had already thrown the car into reverse to dislodge the bike from beneath his front bumper, and then had accelerated forward again in an admitted attempt to flee any perceived wrath from the unarmed man he had just assaulted with what would turn out to be a deadly weapon.

    As the car passed Sheppard, he grabbed on to the side of Bryant’s SAAB.

    Whether this was an act of aggression on Sheppard’s part or just an instinctive – yet ultimately unwise – act of self-preservation or even a failed attempt at stopping his assailant’s escape, we may never know for sure.

    But what we do know is that Bryant continued to race his motor vehicle the wrong way along the narrow one-laned construction site that was Bloor Street at the time, – at a top speed that has been independently estimated at approximately 70 kph (but which the “prosecution” would oddly express as a 34 kph “average speed) – the full length of a football field, with a human being clinging precariously to the side of it, until Bryant, who the evidence suggests had sole control of both of the steering wheel and certainly the accelerator, slammed Sheppard into a fire hydrant resulting in the arguably terrified man’s demise.

    While one would like to sincerely thank Town Crier for their interest in this ever-ongoing tragedy, one would caution against perpetuating the sort of lazy mainstream journalism that, for more than three years now, has been content to regurgitate the killer’s perspective as truth.

    • September 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm
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      Well said, Scunny. Many details of this incident are ambiguous, and Mr. Bryant, his “defence team” and other supporters have done much to amplify the ambiguities. It is in the circumstances understandable that reporters might confuse the details, yet unfortunate that they should repeat or intensify the confusion. For one thing is not at all ambiguous: Darcy Allan Sheppard ended up on the hood of Mr. Bryant’s SAAB because Mr. Bryant ran him down, and he ended up on the street when Mr. Bryant braked suddenly, throwing him off.
      Mr. Bryant would have us believe that he sped away from the scene because he saw an enraged Sheppard coming to attack him. As Scunny correctly points out, Mr. Bryant started to leave the scene while Sheppard was down, first backing up, then moving forward around Sheppard and the bike. Sheppard “latched” onto the car as it was already moving forward, when it reached a point beside him where he could reach up and grab hold. All of this is on the record in the otherwise hopelessly ambiguous and misleading statement read by the special prosecutor to the court, and in the otherwise equally ambiguous and misleading “executive summary” of that statement distributed at the hearing by the prosecutors.
      It is hard to understand how so many media people could get things so wrong on this and other verified facts. But they have, and it’s something they (and you, Townhall) should think long and hard about.

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