Bob Mionske, a cycling lawyer, author of Bicycling & the Law, and contributor to Bicycling magazine, weighs in on the incident of road rage and death involving Michael Bryant, former Ontario Attorney General, and Darcy Sheppard, now deceased bike courier. Despite the work of Bryant's PR firm, Navigator Ltd, feeding the prejudices of newspapers such as the Ottawa Citizen or the Toronto Sun (with the help of their Twitter account @bryantfacts), there was an amazing amount of corroborating evidence from witnesses and security cameras that make it quite hard to spin it so that Bryant appears to be just an innocent victim. Rather we know that Bryant rammed Sheppard out of the way before fleeing the scene while Sheppard gave chase:
So to set the record straight, here’s what really happened.
The night of August 31, Darcy Allan Sheppard was on his bike on Bloor Street, riding home from his fiancee’s apartment. It was 9:45 p.m. As he approached a traffic light, he passed to the left of a Saab convertible that we now know was Michael Bryant’s. After passing Bryant, who was stopped at the light, Sheppard cut in front of his car and also came to a stop. Shortly thereafter, as the light turned green, Bryant drove forward, perhaps bumping Sheppard’s wheel. Sheppard turned his head back, in Bryant’s direction. Witnesses reported that when the light turned green, there was a toot of the horn from Bryant, and a shout to “get moving,” followed—perhaps—by a return shout from Sheppard. Then, incredibly, Bryant hit the gas, pushing Sheppard forward into the intersection, knocking him off his bike. As Sheppard struggled to get to his feet, Bryant backed up, stopped, turned his wheel and began to drive past Sheppard as he sped away.
Sheppard gave chase, grabbing onto Bryant’s car as it sped by. Witnesses reported hearing shouting, and noted that Bryant was “very, very angry.” They also reported that as Bryant sped down the street with Sheppard clinging to his car, he was driving on the wrong side of the street, at about 60 miles per hour, driving up onto the sidewalk, driving against the trees and posts and newspaper boxes lining the street in what they reported appeared to be an attempt to brush Sheppard off his car. Down the street 100 yards, Sheppard was slammed into a mail collection box, and crumpled into a heap in the street as Bryant’s rear wheels ran over him. Witnesses reported that Sheppard, who lay in the street bleeding heavily from his nose and mouth, attempted to get up, but was advised to remain still until an ambulance arrived. Bryant continued driving down the street to the end of the block, before turning in to the driveway of a luxury hotel, where he finally stopped his car.
This is not spin. It is not supposition. It is not rumor. It is fact. We know this, because remarkably, the incident was captured on security cameras, which corroborated the eyewitness accounts . Anonymous spin doctors can suggest news leads and story angles to divert media and public attention, and anonymous internet comments can invent fantasy versions of what actually happened, but the camera doesn’t lie.
And the camera shows that on the night of August 31, Michael Bryant used his car to ram Darcy Sheppard out of his way, before fleeing the scene as Sheppard gave chase on foot. Moments later, Darcy Allan Sheppard lay dying on a Toronto street as Michael Bryant sped away.
But was this where it started?Thu, 09/17/2009 - 12:37
Herb, you know me, I'm probably more biased to the cyclist (after all I read this blog). But from watching the video, I've got to wonder if this is where it started. It already seems like this is an escalation over typical driving behaviour. I wonder if something occurred before the camera's caught this scene. If I recall, TPS was looking for witnesses down Bloor St all the way to Jarvis.
Also, does anyone feel like their privacy is being invaded. I had no idea camera's were aimed this far into the public realm. I can understand private property, but where does it end?
Video shows where it startedFri, 09/18/2009 - 00:12
I don't know what you classify as escalation, but you can clearly see the crucial escalation made by Bryant when he rammed Darcy.
The rest of the normal "noise" quickly falls silent, Bryant's actions spoke louder than anything previous to that. The rest of it is just spin.
I'd try resisting to microscopically analyze what happened(Did Darcy not signal a turn or did Darcy roll through a stop sign or maybe Darcy did not wear his lucky sneakers), sometimes you just stop at an intersection and end up in the cross-hairs of malice. I know people are looking desperately for a reason, any reason, but there are few if any. Most likely those people searching for a reason will get fed or "find" something spun up by anonymous spin doctors or powerful pr firms, and most certainly the reason won't be from the victim's mouth - since he is no longer with us.
You're just now feeling your privacy invaded? Many people I know have dismissed such a word as anachronistic.
Cynic (not verified)
Bryant's actions were totallyThu, 09/17/2009 - 13:43
Bryant's actions were totally inexcusable.
But, so were Sheppard's. If had just grabbed a plate number and taken the high road, he'd still be alive.
Sorry, it take two to tango, and the arrogant behavior of many cyclists on Toronto streets is appalling.
Greg Perkins (not verified)
Arrogance or Desperation?Thu, 09/17/2009 - 16:46
**In my experience, what drivers see as cyclists' arrogance towards cars is actually desperation to stay alive. Cyclists and Motorists are both fragile, but one is encased in 2+ tonnes of metal. Heated rebuttals from cyclists are usually the result of adrenaline and the immediate affect of the realization that a Motorist's minor infraction or lapse of attention could cause grave injury to the Cyclist.
I'm not apologizing for Darcy cutting Bryant off, though he shouldn't have done that, but Bryant's response was grossly out of proportion to the offence. Our society does not condone capital punishment (read: ramming) for traffic offences, especially not when administered by citizens.**
If Sheppard had only grabbed the plane numberThu, 09/17/2009 - 14:16
If Sheppard had only grabbed the plane number then the police wouldn't have charged Bryant, despite Bryant's actions.
It would seem that "bumping" (or what we would call "Ramming") a cyclist with one's car is not aggressive enough behaviour for our police to act on, or at least that been the case in all of my own experiences, and in all of those related to me.
Bottlenecker (not verified)
"Grab the plate number"... of the truck that hit youThu, 09/17/2009 - 15:46
Darcy never had time to get a pen and write down the car's license number.
He was too busy searching his backpack for his cell phone to call Mulroney's PR firm.
Rest in Peace
Darcy Allan Sheppard
With you in our memories - we never ride alone.
Good analysisThu, 09/17/2009 - 14:54
This makes Bryant look even worse than my first impression. No wonder the victim was trying to get him to stop.
One thing I must point out though, there's no way he was doing 60 mph.
HonestEdits (not verified)
The high speed is in the next clipThu, 09/17/2009 - 17:09
The embedded video shows the most complete timeline/footage from the first two security camera clips. However, there is a third clip of him further down the next block, leaving the scene of Sheppards untimely roadside death which occurred some distance off frame. It is then that the high speeds were attained.
Watch the eyewitness narrated version of all 3 clips at my youtube page, or try the annotated version that adds text/diagram interpretation to the videos.
Martin Reis (not verified)
Sheppard is not at fault hereThu, 09/17/2009 - 15:17
Sheppard is not to blame for trying to stop a very dangerous driver ...
john park (not verified)
hiring a pr firm...Thu, 09/17/2009 - 20:48
hiring a PR firm after you've killed someone is creepy.