Prosecutor Richard Peck withdrew all charges against Bryant in connection with the death of a Toronto bike courier, Darcy Allan Sheppard, in a curbside altercation, saying there was no chance of conviction. Then he cited a litany of incidents involving the cyclist and other motorists, including an elderly woman.
Peck, a Vancouver lawyer brought in to avoid any appearances of special treatment, concluded by saying Bryant should never have been charged.
The prosecutor was very thorough in explaining why the charges -- criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death -- were being dropped - so much so that most people were satisfied justice has been served.
The defence made the unusual move of turning over its evidence to the Crown in advance of a preliminary hearing in the hopes the prosecution would see the folly in pursuing a guilty verdict and drop the whole thing. It worked.
As a result, the official victim has been cast in the public mind as the actual villain and the original villain has become the victim.
Case officially closed. However, a few questions come to mind.
Considering another recent high-profile court case, why couldn't the prosecution have been as forthcoming as Peck when most of the charges against former Tory MP Rahim Jaffer were dropped in an Orangeville court in March?
In that case, the Crown simply said there was little chance of conviction with charges of cocaine possession and impaired driving. As a result, Jaffer was able to plead guilty to careless driving and got off with a slap on the wrist. No other explanation was given and the prosecution left politicians in Ontario and Ottawa to deal with a hostile public.
Perhaps it was because Peck, a defence lawyer, didn't have the secretive mindset that most Crown Attorneys seem to have in Ontario. Clearly, the Ontario legal system could learn something about public accountability from the visiting counsel from B.C.
Back to Bryant: If the prosecution says he should never have been charged, then why did the police charge him so quickly within hours of the incident?
Sure there were witness statements the night of the incident that would seem to indicate Bryant was trying to flee the scene of the accident. But how reliable would any witness statement be of an incident that lasted 28 seconds?It was determined that Sheppard had a blood alcohol content of twice the legal limit. He also had been in a police cruiser earlier that same evening after an alleged domestic dispute.
Did police canvass the area to determine if Sheppard had been involved in other altercations with motorists? Remember, most of the evidence Peck cited came from the defence's investigation.
The police certainly had an obligation to show that a former politician was not getting any special treatment But how thorough was the investigation?
Finally, the most disturbing question of all: What would have happened if a person of ordinary means without the sophistication of a former attorney general had been caught up in an incident like this and why was a very troubled Darcy Allan Sheppard not receiving mental health care?
There are questions we all should be thinking about.