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Bryant's charges dropped but PR continues

Special Prosecutor and PR Firm Navigator Involved in Other High-profile Scandals

by Geordie Gwalgen Dent

Darcy Sheppard
Darcy Sheppard

Toronto - Outcries of public rage met the announcement that Michael Bryant would not be charged in the death of Darcy Allen Sheppard, a Metis bike courier from Toronto.

Richard Peck, the special prosecutor assigned to the Bryant/Sheppard case, says that the public interest could not have been taken into account in his decision not to prosecute the former Provincial Minister.

“It doesn't work that way,” said Peck in response to claims that he should have proceeded with charges in the public interest of accountability.  “The responsibility on Crown Council is to review the case and see if it meets the threshold for prosecution.  The public interest cannot trump the fact that case does not meet the threshold for's in the Crown Council policy manual.  If you don't have a provable case, you can't proceed.”

Peck has remained a popular appointment with Provincial governments. He has now been appointed to asses whether charges should be laid against the officers who killed Robert Dziekanski, the Polish immigrant killed after police tasered him five times 30 seconds after confronting him.

A previous statement from the BC criminal justice branch released by Stan Lowe, stated that they unanimously believed that criminal charges against the 4 officers were not necessary. Lowe was appointed as the BC Police Complaints Commissioner two weeks later.

Bryant's car can be seen on public surveillance video (see below) striking Sheppard and then driving off with Sheppard attached to his car, yet the defendant claims that Sheppard attempted to attack him before he drove off in his car, killing Sheppard.

While Peck maintains that due to "the accident reconstruction evidence, the reconstructed video, witness testimony and people that came forward" he could not proceed with charges, other disagree.

Bob Mionske, a cycling lawyer and author believes the video evidence of the Sheppard killing makes very clear what happened.

"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.

"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."

Other witnesses also claimed that Bryant intentionally tried to knock Sheppard off his car (see video below).

While Toronto Star journalists, Peck and witnesses interviewed by the Toronto Media Co-op all claim that they were never contacted by Michael Bryants PR firm, concerns about the firm, Navigator LTD. have also been raised. Their slogan is “When You Can’t Afford to Lose.”

Navigator is headed by Jamie Watt, the mastermind behind the Mike Harris Conservative campaigns in the 90’s.  Watt plead guilty to 13 counts of fraud in 1984.

Joe Friesen writing in The Globe and Mail pointed out that Navigator, an extremely high-end and well-connected firm, was very openly working to spin Bryant’s image through press releases, coordinated statements and the narrative of the events of night Sheppard was killed.

Navigator met with Bryant immediately after Sheppard's death before he was released. They crafted his statements and set up a website and twitter account to get their messages out to the public very quickly.

Navigator has been involved with a number of high-profile, right-wing political events recently. Watt is one of the key campaign managers of the George Smitherman campaign for mayor.  He or his firm has also been involved in ‘crisis communications’ work for Helena Guergis after she was removed form the Conservative Cabinet and Brian Mulroney during the Karlheinz Schreiber affair.

Less well known is that Navigator was also the firm that was conducting focus groups for Pride Toronto looking at whether the group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QUAIA) Could Participate in the march.  Speaking in XTRA, Cathy Gulkin, a member of one focus group, stated that the groups were stacked against QUAIA.  She also stated that Navigator-rep Chad Rodgers was spreading the false claim that swastikas were being worn by QUAIA members at the 2009 Pride Parade.  The claim made by lawyer and Israeli-supporter Martin Gladstone was later debunked as being an anti-swastika symbol not even worn by a QUAIA member.  

An original verison of this story appeared in The SPOKE.  Geordie Gwalgen Dent is a contributuing and sustaining member of the Toronto Media Co-op.

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Gwalgen Dent (Gwalgen Geordie Dent)
Member since August 2008


749 words


So What?

One less douchebag bike courier, I don't see the problem.

Also, why do you feel the need to make his race an issue?


Once less douchebag bike courier, I fail to see the problem.

A few things though:

1. Why is his race (metis) an issue?

2. Witness testimony is notoriously unreliable and almost always biased.

3. After reviewing the video you posted above, it fails to show everything you said conclusively. It's poor quality and next to useless.

the events

Yes, the video quality is poor.  But, there were many witnesses and even Richard Peck's brief admits that Bryant hit Sheppard before Sheppard grabbed onto the car.  According to the summary, Bryant knocked Sheppard onto the roof of his car and drove for 30 feet .  When he stopped, he reversed a few feet, then started to drive off (otherwise known as a hit and run).  Sheppard sprang to his feet and grabbed onto the car saying 'You aren't going to get away that easily.' 


I guess you would have just given Bryant a friendly wave goodbye in this situation?


Bryant still didn't have the decency to stop.  He drove like a maniac down the wrong side of the street as Sheppard hung on for dear life.  He MURDERED Sheppard for no reason and has gotten away with it (for now).

It is abundantly clear that Bryant is the douchebag and that anyone else in his situation would be rotting in jail right now.


Ontario`s Multi Tier "justice" System

How to solve the Bryant issue.

Just strip him of the presumption of innocence like he did to thousands of Ontario Citizens via Reverse Onus Legislation when he was Attorney General of Ontario.

That way he`s presumed guilty of killing Darcy Sheppard and he then gets an opportunity to prove his innocence by providing evidence to the contrary.

Hey if it`s fair and legal to do that to Ontario Dog Owners then it should be fair for Michael Bryant.


Support Bill 60(was Bill 222) and give each and every Ontario Citizen the same Rights as Michael Bryant.

The Right to the Presumption of Innocence.

How does Richard Peck justify "Reverse Onus" Legislation for some?

Should have gone to trial

From reading the summary that was issued, Peck was confused about his job.  Instead of trying to find evidence on how Bryant could kill a man, he spent the whole time bashing the person he was supposed to be finding justice for.

Most of the so-called evidence indicating Sheppard's past behavior with motorists was all hearsay, and frankly, would never have stood up in a court of law.  Never did he question during his summation why Michael Bryant was not charged with failing to remain, and why he wasn't subjected to a breathalyzer on arrest.  And he went so far as to excuse the speeds that Michael Bryant was driving by indicating that he was only driving an AVERAGE of 30km/h, further misleading the public on the maximum speeds.  Witnesses said he was driving well in excess of the speed limit.

It's too bad there isn't someone who will take up Darcy's cause and bring justice to him.  Too many people fail to realize that when a rich person has a PR firm like Navigator skewing the public perception in the media of the victim, that is just as much a signifier of guilt as the actual trial outcome.

Michael Bryant

Well researched & written Geordie. Bryant isn't off the hook yet. There are individuals and groups pressing for justice.

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