Breaking news: Michael Bryant arrested

By: Law is Cool · September 1, 2009 · Filed Under Criminal Law · 14 Comments 

Ex-Ontario AG Bryant held

Former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant has been arrested after a cyclist was killed last night while hanging on to a fleeing car, police sources say.

The crash occurred on Bloor St. near Bay St. around 9:45 p.m. when witnesses said a male cyclist in his 20s collided with a black Saab.



14 Responses to “Breaking news: Michael Bryant arrested”

  1. Bill on September 1st, 2009 3:04 pm

    WOW what depth in your reporting skills.

  2. Omar Ha-Redeye on September 1st, 2009 11:21 pm

    Although this incident has come as a shock to many Torontonians, it’s perhaps worth noting that Michael Bryant is also still innocent until proven otherwise in court.
    Mr. Bryant was known to many of us in this city as a generous, cordial and giving man of friendly spirits. He even did a podcast with this site.

    We are still waiting for more facts to emerge, but it appears as if the cyclist may have been intoxicated and attempted to strangle the driver of the car, who dialed 911 as soon as possible.

    Still, Christie Blatchford of the Globe says,

    The mismatch between car and bicycle is sufficiently enormous that the cyclist is inherently always right.

    View Cyclist killed in car accident in a larger map

  3. Jimmy on September 1st, 2009 11:42 pm

    It does sound horrible.

    But I agree – let’s wait for the full story.

  4. Kristine on September 1st, 2009 11:46 pm

    I really can’t see how any kind of defense can be made for this type of behavior.

    Why did he speed up? Why did he leave his car and run into a hotel?

    This is the guy that ran the courts in Ontario. Does anyone really think he’s going to get fair treatment?

  5. snufflo88 on September 2nd, 2009 12:02 am

    Wasn’t his last gig a marketing guy for the City?

    “Welcome to Toronto, where we’ll try not to run you over with our car.”

  6. Jennifer Smith on September 2nd, 2009 12:18 am

    The moment Sheppard dismounted his bicycle, he ceased to be a cyclist. So Blatchford’s little tale of woe about the hazards of cycling in Toronto is utterly irrelevant.

    What I’m more interested in is what Canadian law has to say about acceptable use of force when defending one’s self or another against an assault. Tell us, Omar!

    Legalities aside, I can tell you that the more I learn about what happened, the more I’m convinced: if some guy on the street flipped out on me and tried to reach or climb into my car, I would have been terrified, and I would have done whatever I had to to get him off.

  7. Omar Ha-Redeye on September 2nd, 2009 12:44 am

    Jennifer: It would be impossible for me to summarize the entire Canadian law as it relates to criminal self-defence here, nor should this be construed as legal advice. But a starting point would be ss. 34-37 of the Criminal Code.

    We don’t know all the details about what happened, but it’s unlikely that the defence could be claimed given the provocation clause (s. 26) that any assault here would be unprovoked (s. 34) or that he did not commence the assault (s. 35), but this could change as the story evolves. I’m pretty certain that defence counsel will try to make a case here first though, because there is much more case law for these provisions.

    The remaining provision available to the defendant would be s. 37 (R. v. Mcintosh), because it does not require determination of who was the aggressor according to R. v. Grandin, (2001)(B.C.C.A.):

    37. (1) Every one is justified in using force to defend himself or any one under his protection from assault, if he uses no more force than is necessary to prevent the assault or the repetition of it.
    (2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to justify the wilful infliction of any hurt or mischief that is excessive, having regard to the nature of the assault that the force used was intended to prevent.
    [emphasis added]

    There are also the defence of property provisions that can be used, but also not likely to fly in a case like this arising out of what appears to be road rage.

    A few points about distinguishing characteristics of this provision – there is no defence for a reasonably apprehended assault or objective element, so an actual assault must be taking place (R. v. Whynot, (1983)(N.S.C.A.); cited in R. v. Lavallee).

    The amount of force used cannot be more than necessary to prevent the assault (R. v. Mulder, (1978)(Ont.C.A.); cited in R. v. Herbert).

    As you’ve probably discerned at this point, the case hinges around whether the amount of force used is “excessive.” There is criminal liability under s. 26 if the force exceeds what is necessary,

    Excessive force
    26. Every one who is authorized by law to use force is criminally responsible for any excess thereof according to the nature and quality of the act that constitutes the excess.

    Determination of whether this was excessive is highly fact specific, and we really don’t have all the information right now.

  8. Kristine on September 2nd, 2009 9:10 am

    So why can’t I find anything like that defence above outlined online, or on any Canadian newspapers?

    We got law students scooping the major press?

  9. P.D.Berry on September 5th, 2009 11:27 am

    After watching for a few days the barage of PR working for this Bryant fellow it is becoming more evident that the fix is in.
    Now youhave police running around withthe story that this Sheperd fellow grabbed the car steering wheel,proof? Not substantiated /Is it there place to
    Judge?Not in our bailiwick;but yet there it isin the newspapers.There is a situation developing here that will bring on the advent of no trial possible because of all the crosstalk.
    The basic facts are;a man is dead
    there are witnesses
    there is video
    there was no fingerprinting
    there was no arraignment
    there was no bail hearing
    there was no substance testing
    there was no breathalizer testing
    there was no leaving the scene charges
    These are all facts for you to ponder and wonder if it were you would you have the same treatment.

  10. Lawrence Gridin on September 6th, 2009 4:28 pm

    P.D. Berry:
    First let me point out that I have not yet formed an opinion on whether Bryant is innocent or guilty. He is innocent until proven guilty in court. I do, however, take exception to your view that “the fix is in.”

    To respond to some of the issues you have raised, let me say the following:
    - Arraignments never happen immediately. Bryant has not even had his first court date yet! Rest assured he will be arraigned later.
    - There does not need to be a bail hearing if the accused is released by the police. The police are perfectly entitled to release someone with or without conditions by requiring them to appear in court at a later date. This happens all the time in Canada. See PART XVI of the Criminal Code.
    - It is not typical to perform substance/alcohol testing on an individual involved in an accident (including one which involves a death). The only reason they would do this is if they have some reason to believe the person was intoxicated. For example, if there was an odour of alcohol on Bryant’s breath, and he was stumbling around drunk, they might have compelled a breath sample from him. When there are no indicia of impairment, police do not normally perform breath/substance testing.
    - As for the fail to remain charge, from what I’ve heard, Bryant called 911. It does not actually matter that he merely left the scene. The Criminal Code offence requires him to have left the scene with the intention of avoiding criminal or civil liability. By calling 911 and reporting the incident, a person cannot be said to have been intending to escape liability.

    Please do not jump to conclusions, and have some faith in our justice system. It’s way too early to be speculating.

  11. Anthony J on September 9th, 2009 8:34 am

    Mr. Bryant has hired a public relations firm – Navigator Ltd to keep Bryant in a good light and Sheppard in a bad light and they are doing a pretty good job of it. What they can’t hide and what will come out in court is this video. Video which shows that Mr. Bryant runs down Sheppard less than 15 seconds after Sheppard pulls up in front of his car and stops for a light. Many who have actually seen this video say it seems very deliberate. Bryant rams him and then tries to take off. All of this BEFORE Sheppard touches the car. Drunk, aggressive and looking for trouble? Well they say Bryant was sober but he may very well have been the other two. So while many have prejudged Mr. Sheppard and assumed the physical assault was started with him that may not be the case. Try watching this video. You might just be surprised.

  12. Poetic Justice on October 1st, 2009 1:03 am

    That video speaks volumes

  13. Feldwebel Wolfenstool on November 14th, 2009 2:17 pm

    Bryant waited for only 5 seconds after the light turned green, before he assaulted Sheppard with a 4,000 lb. lethal weapon. Kind of IMPATIENT, wouldn’t you say? 5 Seconds.

  14. Steven Briggs on October 11th, 2012 7:53 pm

    Now that it is Oct. 2012, so much has come out that it is hard to say that there was any thing near an investagation never mind a fair trial of this incident. Starts right from the beginning when Bryant is allowed to shave shower and change in the police station while waiting for his first court appreance, which never happened anyway. Now that we have all seen the video and seen what happened with our own eyes make your own mind and not what a PR firm would like you to believe. Now Bryant has a book out that he says he was an alcoholic, only one ever cured. Also he was a trained boxer that would have had no problem handling Mr. Sheppard but he choose to cross to the wrong side of the street speed up to ram Mr. Sheppard into a ploe or whatever. Now we all know there is really no blind justice or rights and freedoms in Canada, we have turned into a third world country.