Charges dropped in Michael Bryant case

All criminal charges have been dropped in the case against former Attorney General Michael Bryant.

Bryant was originally charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death in connection with a traffic accident involving bike courier Darcy Allan Sheppard.

Special prosecutor Richard Peck addressed the court with the surprising news earlier this morning. The Sun is reporting that the reason for the announcement is that the prosecution didn't believe that there was a reasonable possibility of conviction in the case.

More to follow.

Update, 2:10 p.m.

Special prosecutor Richard Peck has explained the reasoning behind his decision in greater depth, highlighting the key pieces of evidence that convinced him a conviction in the case would not be possible.

Chief among these is Bryant's contention that it was a stalled engine that led his car to lurch forward and contact the cyclist from behind (as is seen in the video evidence) and the fact that Sheppard had no less than six other incidents with motorists in the days and weeks leading up to the fateful altercation with Bryant.

"The evidence establishes that Mr. Sheppard was the aggressor in the altercation with Mr. Bryant," Peck explained to the court earlier today. "He was agitated and angry, and without any provocation from Mr. Bryant or his wife. The defence position that Mr. Bryant was deeply frightened and panicked is supported by the available evidence, including Mr. Sheppard's history of aggressiveness towards motorists and others."

Allan Sheppard, the victim's father by adoption, offered an ambivalent response to today's news. Although he noted that he was "content with the result as it came," he also had this to say: "I don't know what justice is in this circumstance. I'm not happy with the result. I'm not sure what would have made me happy."

Bryant, for his part, emphasized how fast the incident happened (28 seconds) and thanked those who offered him support throughout the ordeal. When asked about the possibility that he received preferential treatment as the former Attorney General of Ontario, he responded that "the system worked with excruciating independence."

Cycling groups around the city will gather at the makeshift memorial to Sheppard located just east of Avenue Road on Bloor Street at 5:30 p.m. for a vigil.

Coverage of this to follow.

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