In Memory of Allan Sheppard – Photo by Tsar Kasim
New details have emerged through a Freedom of Information request regarding the August 31, 2009 death of Darcy Allan Sheppard. Sheppard’s father claims the evidence he has obtained through the freedom of information request does not support the explanation in the decision to drop charges against the man who killed his son.
On August 31st, 2009, Darcy Allan Sheppard was killed on his bicycle after an altercation with former Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant. Special prosecutor Richard Peck was brought in from Vancouver to avoid the appearance of a conflict-of-interest, since Mr. Bryant had appointed many of the judges and prosecutors in Ontario.
Prosecutor Peck made the decision to drop the charges on Mr. Bryant, heavily relying on Mr. Bryant’s statement which seemed to strongly contradict evidence that was available at the time.
From an article in the Toronto Star published on May 25, 2010:
“Peck told court Tuesday eyewitness accounts coupled with forensic examinations suggest Sheppard was attempting to enter the vehicle and attack Bryant during the encounter.”
The police had tested the victim’s blood alcohol level but had failed to bother testing Mr. Bryant to see if he had been drinking (Mr. Bryant has since confessed to being an alcoholic in a book that he published after the incident).
Mr. Peck had also identified prior altercations that had occurred with Sheppard and other motorists over the previous month, claiming his aggression towards motorists was escalating.
At the time, Sheppard’s father Allan had accepted the dropped charges. But over the years Allan Sheppard Sr. worked through a Freedom of Information Access request to uncover the documentation that Peck would have had access to in order to make his decision.
Those documents were released today, and in a media release, Sheppard Sr. has indicated that the documentation does not support Prosecutor Peck’s explanation for dropping the charges. Sheppard Sr. says that the documents he obtained place blame on both Mr. Bryant and his son:
The father of cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard (known to friends as “Al”) says he has obtained documents that contradict Special Prosecutor Richard Peck’s explanation of circumstances surrounding Sheppard (Jr.)’s death and Peck’s decision to drop criminal charges against Michael Bryant three years ago.
Mr. Bryant had been charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death after an August 31, 2009 incident involving Sheppard (Jr.).
“I reluctantly accepted that decision,” Sheppard (Sr.) says. “Given the circumstances and my son’s background, getting a conviction would have been difficult. But I emphatically reject Mr. Peck’s explanation of his decision. Information obtained through freedom of information access does not—and cannot—support the exoneration implicitly given to Mr. Bryant by Mr. Peck. The documents say my son and Mr. Bryant were both responsible for what happened.”
Read the press release here or view the documentation here:
Police Memo Book Notes
Post Mortem Documents
More details will be added as The Urban Country combs through the documentation. Stay tuned.
James D. Schwartz is the Editor of The Urban Country and is based in Toronto, Canada. You can contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.
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One thing that confused me about Peck’s decision not to prosecute was the repeated claim that Bryant was driving in 1st gear at 30km/h, despite half a dozen witness accounts that the car was going 60-90km/h.
Reading through the Collision Reconstruction report, I see the section where they try to calculate the car speed based on the distance between the fire hydrant and where Sheppard’s body came to rest (p 39). The report concludes the 30-40km/h figure, *with the HUGE qualification* that:
“The analysis did not take into account the energy transferred to the objects the cyclist struck. Witnesses stated the cyclist struck objects west of the fire hydrant. The measurements reflected the cyclist separating from the vehicle at the time he struck the hydrant.”
So this is an absolute low bound on speed. Sheppard hit the hydrant hard enough to cave in his skull and rip open his side, plus according to witnesses hit other objects too. None of that is accounted for in this calculation which assumes Sheppard just ‘let go’ of the car and bounced on flat pavement.
So it’s certain that the speed was higher than 30-40km/m, and no reason not to believe witness statements of 70+km/h.
And that’s just one high school physics example. There is obviously a lot of cherry picking in Peck’s argument for non-prosecution.
Whenever one government official whitewashes another government official, this is not the “appearance of a conflict of interest.” It is an ACTUAL conflict of interest. They are both government officials.
The way to avoid conflict of interest is to have a jury of the people decide on the guilt or innocence of Mr. Bryant. That is what juries are for: To hold the government accountable to the people.
Unfortunately, the people, in the form of a jury, did not get to decide. One government official whitewashed another. Yes, it is corrupt and stinks to high heaven.