Accused Montreal cab driver released on bail
Published Wednesday, May 2, 2012 7:10PM EDT
A Montreal cab driver at the centre of an alleged hit-and-run captured in a gruesome YouTube video has been granted bail.
As controversy over the case spread throughout Montreal's cabbie community Wednesday, Guercy Edmond, 47, was released on $3,000 bail, which was posted by his wife.
Conditions of bail allow Edmond to continue to drive a cab, but he is not able to pick up clients in certain areas of the city between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The decision came as hundreds of taxi drivers jammed a downtown Montreal street outside the courthouse, honking their horns and demanding justice for their colleague who faces charges of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, hit-and-run and dangerous driving.
In the video, which was posted online, a cab driver appears to get involved in a dispute with several others who jump on his car, shout insults and kick the vehicle.
The cab appears to attempt to flee, and in the process runs over one of the individuals. The young man is currently in hospital suffering from a perforated spleen, perforated bladder and fractured ribs, court heard Wednesday.
In a strange twist, the prosecution did not present the video in court, which puzzled the presiding judge.
"It's bizarre that the prosecution doesn't have the video. Half of Quebec has seen it. I've seen it. It makes no sense to me," said Justice Jean-Pierre Boyer.
But according to a police investigator, the video doesn't show the whole story.
Court heard that three passengers were in the cab last Sunday when there was a dispute about a fare, which resulted in one of the passengers punching the driver.
Once the passengers left the cab, it's alleged that the driver responded by trying to run them down, court heard. Instead, he hit a lamp post.
At that point, passersby began filming the altercation.
The judge showed little hesitation in granting bail, and told the accused that it must have been a very stressful situation.
"The aggressive behaviour of certain drunken clients isn't reassuring for a taxi driver like you. I'm convinced there was a panic," the judge said.
Edmond was arraigned Monday and was held until his bail hearing Wednesday.
Because of the massive number of taxi drivers in attendance, family members of Edmond as well as members of the media were unable to get inside the court, and proceedings had to be moved to a different courtroom.
The sentiment among drivers is that Edmond was simply trying to protect his own life by fleeing the dispute, which reportedly began when one of the passengers slammed the door of the cab, reported CTV Montreal's Stephane Giroux.
Police eventually closed the street near the court, as the number of cabbies swelled and eventually blocked traffic.
Defence lawyer Yves Vaillancourt said that as the taxi was being attacked, his client attempted to call 911.
"At the same time, he was trying to miss the people that were blocking the way in front of him. He was driving trying to escape."
The next court date is June 20.