Allan Sheppard Sr says son denied a fair hearing but Crown says decision was made independently

Allan Sheppard Sr

Update: I've added info from the Crown's email on the independence and public record of the decision in the case. There has been little media coverage with both sides of the story so far.

We'll never know exactly what happened on the night four years ago that former Attorney General Michael Bryant and bike courier Darcy Allan Sheppard got into an on-street argument that resulted in Sheppard's tragic death. But Allan Sheppard Senior today made an impassioned and levelheaded statement that his son never received justice through a "robust prosecution". Sheppard Sr. and supporters have assembled documents that they acquired through freedom of information requests that they say raises questions about the decisions made by the prosecutor of the case. They claim that justice was not done when Special Prosecutor Richard Peck decided that there wasn't enough evidence for a trial, and that they have evidence "the Crown tweaked, massaged, and cherry-picked evidence and testimony, effectively to exonerate Mr. Bryant." (Photo: TVO)

The Crown has responded that an independent outside prosecutor handled the case and the reasons for his decision are public record. In an email from the Crown to Newstalk 1010 saying "on May 25, 2010, the independent outside prosecutor concluded that there was no reasonable prospect of conviction and withdrew the charges against the accused. The independent prosecutor put his reasons for this conclusion on the record in open court. As this was matter was handled by an independent outside prosecutor, the Ministry has no further comment to make on this matter." Peck was brought in from British Columbia as a prosecutor for the matter given that Michael Bryant was Attorney General of Ontario at the time.

From Sheppard Sr's statement today, Sheppard said that just like everyone deserves a robust defence, so every victim deserves a robust prosecution.

That does not mean the victim’s side of the story must prevail; only that it must be considered, presented, and argued as robustly as any defence.

In our common-law system, that argument must take place in an open, adversarial court that is designed and intended to find truth between robustly contested theories of a case.

That didn’t happen for my son.

Sheppard Sr said he didn't know what justice would look like in this case, nor does he think it was necessarily unjust to drop the charges. Instead, Sheppard Senr says that there was injustice in how the prosecutor explained the decision "in a way that exonerates Mr. Bryant of all responsibility and accountability and, in effect, justifies what he did to my son—without the transparency necessary to support such a conclusion." The Crown, it seems, considers the case closed and that a responsible decision was made. There wasn't any public comment from Special Prosecutor Peck that I could find as of this posting.

Comments

This is precisely why we have juries. To hold government officials accountable to the people.

What does justice look like? Justice looks like a robust prosecution and a robust defence in front of a jury of the people.

But Mr. Sheppard did not get justice. Instead, one government official whitewashed another. The people, in the form of a jury, had zero say. To me that cannot look like anything other than a corrupt conflict of interest whenever one government official whitewashes another.

Kevin Love

Sitting in the Courtroom that day, it was hard to bear witness to such a casual dismissal of the case.

The legal system does not always serve the interests of all equally; I see Bryant's acquittal as a black mark on our legal system.

This is why some of us have a republic...

Mr. Sheppard Sr. is a fabulous advocate. He is able to discern the issues of greater concern, and does not seek to define what justice for his son might be, simply that what happened was an injustice, which I agree with.

His digging into the documents, aided by some local advocates thanks, shows that there were two parties to it all, and I'd urge folks to explore the darcyallensheppard/wordpress site perhaps starting with the surveillance video footages of that initial spark at Bloor/Bay.

I go a bit further than the police report to assign some blame to the City of Toronto in its failure to provide bike lanes along Bloor there as recommended in 1992, and also with the abysmal biking conditions at the time, including an illegal sign saying "Cyclists dismount", which should have been accompanied by a "Motorists get out and Push" sign as well.

The National Post has been the only large paper to do a pretty fair story thus far: the Toronto Star has been biased for Mr. Bryant at times. The CBC radio has given air time on its news.

I think it's an important issue for cyclists because of the precedents set when a cyclist gets in front of a car eg. takes the lane. It's not to say that Mr. Sheppard Jr. wasn't a problem in some ways, but the price he's paid seems quite unequal.

My view, as someone who only knows this story from what I've read in the papers, is that Allan Sheppard was being a dickhead, so Michael Bryant murdered him, then Mr. Bryant used his influence to have the incident declared a 'justified killing'. This is how they do things in some Third-World despotism.

The fact that this case did not go to trial is a stain on Canada's Justice system and proved beyond doubt that Canada indeed is a plutocratic society. That day brings back tears, outrage, disappointment and shame for my country.

One can only hope that the public will rise up and demand justice for the Sheppard family.