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August 21, 2012 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Ex Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant (previously previously previously) reveals struggle with alcoholism, and his thoughts on cyclist's death in new memoir, 28 Seconds. CBC radio "The Current" interview, and CTV tv interview. Allan Sheppard, the deceased's father, asks people to scrutinize Bryant's story.
posted by kneecapped (49 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Only drank an ice tea" my ass.
posted by Renoroc at 5:23 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hello, brother. You’re one of us, aren’t you?

This is what Bryant claims to have thought on his first encounter with Al Sheppard. You're another alcoholic, like me. Yes, Al was just like you, Michael. Except for one thing.

He didn't kill a man and get off on a technicality.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:28 PM on August 21, 2012 [13 favorites]


I heard a bit from a couple of interviews on the CBC over the past couple of days and had to turn it off. Just the self-serving narcissism of Bryant's assertion that when he first saw Sheppard, he immediately recognized him as "one of us" -- an alcoholic -- disgusted me. Whether or not it's true, it's a mawkish attempt at sympathy that just turned me off.
posted by maudlin at 5:30 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, you killed someone and it sucks to have to live with that? Well Ex Ontario Attourney General Michael Bryant, do you know what people do who feel bad about killing someone wrongfully and are not self-serving douchebags? They do not publish books telling everyone about how much it sucks to be them. They instead work tirelessly to fix the problems that lead up to that wrongful death, including societal ills like drunk driving, Toronto-specific ills like lack of cycling infrastructure, and pervasive personality defects that lead up to the failures in judgement that lead directly to the death, e.g. being a powerful white asshole who thinks he is above the law.

I suggest you keep living that brief encounter with another human being over and over again until you die. Because you're the only one who can do that now. The other person is dead.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:32 PM on August 21, 2012 [23 favorites]


I don't envy Bryant. He has to live with the knowledge that he took someone's life. Whether or not he was at fault, it is still a serious burden to carry. That said, I am suspicious and more than a little leery over the fact that his PR firm he felt the need to write and publish a book about the experience. And go on multiple news outlets publicising it. And talk about how, like Darcy Allen Sheppard, he too was an alcoholic. What's your point, buddy?

(on preview: what seanmpuckett said)
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 5:33 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


(CORRECTION: the victim's name is spelled "Darcy Allan Sheppard". The little details matter in cases like these.)
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 5:37 PM on August 21, 2012


He was mostly called Al by his friends.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:39 PM on August 21, 2012


I hate that I voted for this asshole when I lived in the St. Paul riding back in the nineties.

Go away, Michael Bryant. Try to live a life of integrity and to do enough good to somehow compensate in a way for what you have done. But don't expect us to listen to you or feel sorry for you or admire you.
posted by orange swan at 5:41 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the decision not to charge Bryant was the correct one, and yet this book still is in bad taste, as is the associated rehabilitation campaign in the media.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 5:42 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the decision not to charge Bryant was the correct one, and yet this book still is in bad taste

One of these statements is incorrect. The decision not to prosecute was based on examination of Al Sheppard's background and history with alcohol. The same scrutiny was not applied to Michael Bryant's background.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:05 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've hated Bryant so for so long--long before he killed Sheppard. He's an opportunistic prick and will be one till the day he dies.
posted by dobbs at 6:09 PM on August 21, 2012


Hey, Warren Kinsella likes him.
posted by docgonzo at 6:26 PM on August 21, 2012


The decision not to prosecute was based on examination of Al Sheppard's background and history with alcohol.

I think this statement paints an incomplete picture. From the prosecutor:

"Our conclusion is that Mr. Bryant had been attacked by a man who unfortunately was in a rage," Peck later said outside court. "In such circumstances, he was legally justified in attempting to get away. The case could not be proved." Link
posted by Adam_S at 6:27 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Adam_S gets it. Quite simply, there was no intent to injure on Bryant's part; nor could you argue negligence, as it was Sheppard who put himself on top of the hood of Bryant's car.

I submit that any attempt to make more of this incident than what it is, to see it as the beginning of the end of some morality tale or trageda starring either Bryant or Sheppard is not sustained by the facts.
posted by docgonzo at 6:32 PM on August 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Er, that should be "the beginning or the end."
posted by docgonzo at 6:32 PM on August 21, 2012


Read the last link. His own father said it was probably the right decision. So what Bryant is doing now should probably be the focus of the discussion.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:35 PM on August 21, 2012


Al's father wasn't there. The prosecutor's decision mostly took Bryant's statements at face value, without any cross-examination, after Sheppard had already been crucified by the press. "He was a drunk. He was one of those dirty punker messengers. He was Native."

Bryant was not breathalyzed at the scene, and was extended a surprising amount of courtesy by investigators, even after it was shown that he had struck Sheppard's bike with his vehicle before the fatal incident.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:45 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


there was no intent to injure on Bryant's part

Have you seen the video? At top speed Bryant attempted to scrape Sheppard off of his car via telephone pole and mailbox. Your remark is outrageous.
posted by dobbs at 6:49 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Video.
posted by mazola at 6:53 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I listened to the interview this morning, and I could not believe that the Current ran it.

I don't doubt the sincerity of Bryant, but the whole thing seemed to be in rather bad taste given the fact that he has not reconciled with (and probably never will reconcile with) Sheppard's father.

Like I said, I could not believe the Current of all programs chose to air an interview - and such a long one - with Bryant.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:58 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Like I said, I could not believe the Current of all programs chose to air an interview - and such a long one - with Bryant.

At least The Voice didn't try to make a lame joke about it.
posted by greatgefilte at 7:03 PM on August 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm using my psychic powers to suck every ounce of good karma and publicity and of course money away from this book and stream them toward a worthier target, like Darin Strauss's Half a Life, or a charity that gives tricycles to toddlers with cancer, or basically anywhere else including jettisoning into space.

The effectiveness of this is dubious because I don't have any psychic powers, but as a more emphatic form of Not Buying (or reading or selling) the book it makes me feel better.
posted by nicebookrack at 7:35 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I tried several times to post the security camera video of the incident on the CBC story. My first comment was deleted and a second even more sterile comment was never approved. I don't see how I broke a submission guideline, all I can think is they don't want the video evidence posted. Libel risks, maybe? This is the first time I've felt like their comments were closely moderated. It's disappointing.

In any case, the CBC piece is total puffery. I filed this complaint with the ombudsman:
I am disgusted at Amanda Lang's interview with Micheal Bryant being presented as "News". No effort was made to check or correct Bryant's numerous omissions and misrepresentations.

Take this piece, representative of the segments aired on "The National" and "The Current".

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/08/20/michael-bryant-interview-28-seconds.html

Bryant's quotes are accepted uncritically as truth:
"... the cyclist soon came up to his car and "took a swing" at the former provincial cabinet minister. "Bryant said he doesn't know why Sheppard confronted him... he tried to get away from Sheppard, at first struggling to get his vehicle started, though it lurched forward at one point and he hit the brakes. But that made the situation worse. "Something was triggered and he went to a whole other level of rage," ... Bryant began backing his vehicle away. When he got his vehicle moving forward again, Sheppard came at the car. "He started running at the car,"..."
Comparing this account to well-known security camera footage of the incident contradicts Bryant's account of events.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NTmSPl4wrw#t=42s

1) There is no physical interaction between Sheppard and Bryant. Sheppard never "takes a swing".
2) Bryant clearly rams Sheppard onto the hood of his car and into the Bay St. intersection. This omission is never suggested by the CBC to explain Bryant's seeming confusion about what escalated the event.
3) Sheppard never "runs at the car", Bryant has already backed up by the time Sheppard picks himself off the concrete. Sheppard takes two steps sideways as Bryant accelerates away from the collision scene.

To a journalist, Bryant's clear omissions and story-telling would create an ethical obligation to clearly distinguish opinion from fact, correct the factual record, and let the viewer judge for themselves Bryant's credibility on other un-verifiable statements.

Apparently Amanda Lang did not feel this obligation. I hope she is supervised more closely on any further news coverage.
We'll see if the CBC management wants to defend this, or if it was just Amanda Lang doing this on her own. "News". Hah.
posted by anthill at 7:43 PM on August 21, 2012 [20 favorites]


Also, the Toronto Police are officially a bit pissed off at being accused of framing Bryant.
posted by anthill at 7:46 PM on August 21, 2012


There's a little voice in me that says that the CBC is letting Bryant coil his own rope so to speak. Let's see if her builds his own gallows, metaphorically speaking.
posted by NiteMayr at 7:56 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Attorney General is/was the chief law officer of the Executive Council. Obviously, this would screw up any investigation as the investigators would be investigating their boss. And that's where the system failed. No one expected their boss to screw up like this. But he did. And the investigation was inevitably flawed. Sadly.

And now the cops are pissed with him. No wonder.

Bryant appears to be in a twelve step program. He's attempting to do one of those steps, and he's failing by not addressing those immediately affected by his actions. And now he's jumped ahead to helping others. He may need to go back to taking inventory, or find something better.

There are a number of better approaches.

/will not read, sell, nor buy the book. Trycicles! Psychic powers! CLICK CLICK!
posted by shoesfullofdust at 7:59 PM on August 21, 2012


I cannot make an official comment on this post until I run it by my PR firm.
posted by ovvl at 8:06 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why does the father think it was the right decision to not prosecute Bryant?
posted by Brocktoon at 8:17 PM on August 21, 2012


Also, the Toronto Police are officially a bit pissed off at being accused of framing Bryant.

That was an interesting part of the interview (and, in retrospect makes me think that the CBC is, as NiteMayr says, giving Bryant rope to hang himself with), where the interviewer asks Bryant about comments he had made about the police, and Bryant does begin to say something pretty inflammatory about the cops, stops himself quickly, and pivots to a broad, generic statement about the failures of the legal system in general.

The more I think about it, the more it sounds as though Bryant is some kind of sociopath.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:18 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Obviously, this would screw up any investigation as the investigators would be investigating their boss. And that's where the system failed. No one expected their boss to screw up like this. But he did. And the investigation was inevitably flawed. Sadly.

Wasn't the prosecution handled by someone brought in from another jurisdiction? This kind of conflict of interest isn't that unusual or hard to handle. My memory from the previous threads about this is that it sounded like they did a decent investigation and the witnesses and forensics backed up Bryant's version of events enough that not prosecuting made sense to me.

Have you seen the video? At top speed Bryant attempted to scrape Sheppard off of his car via telephone pole and mailbox. Your remark is outrageous.

I watched the video a bunch of times and saw nothing particularly close to that; if nothing else, Bryant's car was stopped, he wasn't going at "top speed." On the other hand, I'm generally inclined to side with the criminal defendant and that blurry video was really just an ink blot for the things you and I already believed.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:27 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think he's about the same level of sociopath as most C-level executives, which is to say fairly ruthless and expert at self-persuasion.

He must have been very, very bitter that his remarkable political career is over. I wonder if years of brooding has anything to do with why his wife left him.

Now he's left working for some two-bit (sorry Phil Fontaine) law firm, a shadow of his former unstoppable political animal. And he wants it back, and this is the best advice that Navigator could suggest.

But that's just my armchair psychoanalysis.
posted by anthill at 8:29 PM on August 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm glad to hear he's donating the profits from that book to the family and to alcoholism awareness and driver safety awareness organizations such that some small good might come of this.

Oh, wait.

I didn't hear that at all.

Asshole.
posted by chasing at 8:30 PM on August 21, 2012


Bulgaroktonos, dobbs the "attempt to scrape Sheppard off of his car via telephone pole and mailbox" wasn't captured on video - it happens subsequent to the black car leaving the scene (with Al presumably grabbing on).
posted by anthill at 8:32 PM on August 21, 2012


Watched the video. Murder with car.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:36 PM on August 21, 2012


I watched the video a bunch of times and saw nothing particularly close to that; if nothing else, Bryant's car was stopped, he wasn't going at "top speed."

anthill is correct. The video you watched was prior to Sheppard grabbing onto the car. Once Sheppard grabs the car, Bryant drove west on Bloor in the eastbound lane and attempted to scrape Sheppard off on telephone poles and mailboxes and eventually made him connect with a fire hydrant, which is what killed him. Multiple eye-witnesses confirmed this, though I don't think a single eye-witness confirmed anything Bryant said.
posted by dobbs at 8:53 PM on August 21, 2012


Bryant could have earned a lot of respect by voluntarily giving the book royalties to Sheppard's estate. Instead, those royalty checks will probably be used to pay off the same PR company he hired to get him off the hook and probably told him that writing the book was a good idea. Kind of an ironic tragedy, in a way. Still, he's chosen to go his grave an asshole and that's his right.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:54 PM on August 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's eyewitness accounts. He was driving "90. Going the wrong way."
posted by dobbs at 9:07 PM on August 21, 2012


We'll see if the CBC management wants to defend this, or if it was just Amanda Lang doing this on her own. "News". Hah.

I caught the end of it, it was pretty disgusting. Good on you, and shame on the CBC.

There's a little voice in me that says that the CBC is letting Bryant coil his own rope so to speak. Let's see if her builds his own gallows, metaphorically speaking.

I wish it were so, but IIRC Lang - who is a business reporter, not crime, not civic - made it pretty clear in the interview that she and Bryant had both a professional and social relationship. Goddamn fucking embarassment.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:18 PM on August 21, 2012


Wasn't the prosecution handled by someone brought in from another jurisdiction?

I was just talking about the initial investigation. The initial WTF, not the prosecution.
posted by shoesfullofdust at 9:29 PM on August 21, 2012


The amount of astroturfing Navigator is doing at the cbc site is incredible! It seems they've swayed the voting and created multiple sock puppets!
posted by GregorWill at 2:15 AM on August 22, 2012


If you want to read about Toronto, Cycling, & Crime. Read this.
posted by Fizz at 6:47 AM on August 22, 2012


I read the excerpt in Maclean's this past weekend, and while I am willing to accept the idea that we'll never truly know what happened during those 28 seconds, the air of "won't anyone PLEASE think of the rich white men????" was awfully strong. I mean, the piece ended with his wife asking him who she should call (i.e. which lawyer)...and he was so frazzled HE COULDN'T THINK OF ONE. I mean, can you IMAGINE?
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 6:56 AM on August 22, 2012


Don't have a dog in this fight, but eyewitness testimony is just about the most useless form of testimony possible.

The video sure is damning, though.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:24 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


anthill has it right, I think, this is Bryant's attempt to recast his image. The book, the interview with a friendly journalist, possibly even the program he's in are PR attempts to rehabilitate him. I'm would not doubt that he harbours ambitions to a second-act political career.
posted by bonehead at 7:28 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm would not doubt that he harbours ambitions to a second-act political career.

I have no doubt whatsoever that this is the case. I also have no doubt that those aspirations are further indications of psychopathy.

Luckily, I think that most Canadians can see that a) Bryant got preferential treatment that no 'ordinary' person would, b) we only have his side of the story, since the other guy is dead, and c) we'll never know what really happened, but there's an inescapable feeling that the public is being manipulated on all of this. Those three points together mean that this guy is politically toxic. If he was smart and not an A-type, he'd head into a nice, quiet, lucrative position in business somewhere, and stay out of the public eye.

I've studiously avoided all the news reports about Bryant's rehabilitation attempts (though I do see it as a legitimate news topic). Every time I see or hear this guy, I feel sick.

Whatever Bryant's future, he has a stain on his soul, which everyone can see but him.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:50 AM on August 22, 2012


Also, the Toronto Police are officially a bit pissed off at being accused of framing Bryant.

Especially considering that after his night in lockup, the cops let him shower and shave and put on a nice suit before facing the cameras. You or I should ask for that when we're detained.

Wasn't the prosecution handled by someone brought in from another jurisdiction?

B.C., if I recall. And while the Crown has a duty not to proceed if there's no reasonable prospect of conviction, there is also an overriding need for not only Justice to be done, but for Justice to be seen to be done. For that reason, I would have preferred the matter be tested in open court, rather than in a temp's office. If someone of Bryant's stature and responsibility was to be found innocent, let it be after all the evidence is presented for everyone to see.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:00 AM on August 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


“I think he sees it as a problem that he has to face personally,” Mr. Sheppard said on the program. “He doesn’t really seem to accept the fact that my son died as a consequence of what happened. At this stage, whatever he might do is a bit late. My sense is that everything that Mr. Bryant has done from the first minute after the incident through till now is part of a carefully worked out strategy designed to minimize any possible responsibility on his part. And to smooth the way back into a political career.”
Michael Bryant’s book met with anger from slain cyclist’s father, police. [G&M]
posted by mazola at 9:22 AM on August 22, 2012


I just read the prosecutor's summary (PDF) which dismissed the charges against Bryant. It paints Sheppard as a psychopath, and then seems very sympathetic to Bryant. Apparently lurching into Sheppard's bike is forgivable because those darn Saabs have such a difficult clutch.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:38 PM on August 22, 2012


Well, now that I've settled THAT issues, back to my political career...
posted by Theta States at 10:09 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


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