[messengers] Cyclist killed in confrontation with former A-G remembered one year later

Date: 30 Aug 2010 13:11:11 +0200
From: Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>

Cyclist killed in confrontation with former A-G remembered
one year later


Star, August 29, 2010



By Jennifer Yang



On the night of his death, bicycle courier Darcy Allan
Sheppard was riding a white Miele road bike with curled handlebars. Friends
still remember the 33-year-old’s excitement when he bought the set of wheels,
which he decorated with stickers and the nickname “the weeder speeder” scrawled
in orange marker across the frame.


This was the bike Sheppard was riding exactly one year ago
Tuesday, when he was killed on Bloor
  St. during a confrontation with former Ontario attorney general,
Michael Bryant. The bike, held in police custody since then, was back on the
road Sunday afternoon, rolling down the same stretch of Bloor St. where Sheppard spent his dying


Sporting a new tire and pedals (the old ones were damaged
during Sheppard’s fatal accident), the bike also had a new rider — Sheppard’s
adoptive father, Allan, who travelled from Edmonton to participate in a memorial ride
commemorating his son’s death.


It was the senior Sheppard’s first time cycling in Toronto, on the same bike
and road that marked his son’s final journey. But for the pragmatic
72-year-old, the ride held no deeper significance than to commemorate his son.


“I don’t see any particular symbolism there,” said Sheppard,
carrying a backpack and sporting a black and white-checkered helmet. “I’m just
pretty happy to be here to support my son’s friends.”


Some 50 couriers and cyclists took part in Sunday’s memorial
ride, which kicked off from the spot where Sheppard died, just east of Bloor St. and
Avenue Rd. A separately-planned vigil for the fallen bike messenger also took
place at Bay and Bloor Sts. Sunday night.


For participants of the memorial ride, including Sheppard’s
then-girlfriend, Misty Bailey, the goal was to remember a lost friend and draw
attention to cyclist safety.


But many also vented their frustrations over the outcome of
Bryant’s criminal charges stemming from Sheppard’s death. In May, Crown
prosecutor Richard Peck withdrew Bryant’s charges after concluding there was no
reasonable prospect of a conviction.


“It made me sick,” said cyclist Sonia Serba, who helped
organize the event. “The outcome made me sick.”


“I’m disappointed with our legal system,” said Brian Harris,
a courier and close friend of Sheppard’s. “Darcy’s been failed by the system so
many times before and this has got to be the biggest failure.”


Harris, 36, brought a “ghost bike” to Sunday’s memorial,
which he locked to a pole near the site of Sheppard’s death. Ghost bikes,
painted white, are often placed in spots where cyclists have been killed and
three have so far been made in Sheppard’s memory.


Harris said he frequently delivers packages to office
buildings on Bloor St.
but can no longer bring himself to cycle down that road.


“This will probably be the only time I’ve ridden along this
road,” said Harris. “I’m riding along the stretch of road that my friend was
dragged to death on.”


Sheppard’s father said he still remembers the moment he
learned of his son’s death last August. He was taking a Greyhound bus back to Edmonton from Toronto and
by the time he reached Winnipeg,
there was a message waiting for him on his cell phone from one of Darcy’s


Sheppard said he plans on bringing Darcy’s bike back to Alberta and giving it to
his younger brother, David.


He said he is still working through some grief and is
disappointed the truth behind his son’s death was never sufficiently aired in


“I’m prepared still to accept that he did initiate the
incident. But I need a better explanation of how that happened than what we’ve
got so far,” he said. “I think that the assertions that were made deserved more
rigorous examination than they got.”


Sheppard said he has never spoken to Bryant and doesn’t know
if he ever will. Although Sheppard feels no vitriol towards the former attorney
general, he would like to see Bryant acknowledge the role he played in his
son’s death — whatever that may have been.


“I do think I’d like Mr. Bryant to ‘fess up. Just to say,
‘Look, what I did, I regret having done it . . . and I’m sorry,’ ” he said.
“Even that — just to admit some involvement.”


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