Montreal taxi driver faces charges in hit-and-run
Published Monday, April 30, 2012 6:42PM EDT
A 47-year-old Montreal taxi driver is facing several charges after a man was struck by a vehicle during a confrontation in the city's downtown Sunday.
The hit-and-run incident at the intersection of St. Laurent Boulevard and Rachel Street around 4 a.m. sent the 23-year-old victim to hospital with serious injuries.
He's listed in critical but stable condition at a Montreal hospital.
The gruesome incident was captured on video and played repeatedly on television newscasts and on digital news websites Monday.
The suspect, who police identified as Guercy Edmond of Laval, appeared in court Monday afternoon. Edmond is charged with assault with a weapon (vehicle), grievous assault, dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
A 42-year-old man also faces a mischief charge related to the altercation and is to appear in court at a later date.
Edmond's lawyer says his client acted in self-defence.
"I asked him what he was accused of and to that he replied, ‘I was attacked,'" Yves Vaillancourt told reporters. "He did not say, ‘I hit somebody,' or whatever."
Local resident Jonathan Himsworth said the incident began when a passenger who appeared to be angry got out of a taxi and slammed the door.
He said a man then jumped out of the cab and confronted the passenger.
Himsworth grabbed his video camera when he saw the suspect get back into the taxi and begin driving through a group of men on the street.
"We saw the driver ram his cab into the lamppost," Himsworth said. "At that point I started running footage."
The video shows a group of people approach the cab while it is at a standstill.
One person appears to hit or kick the cab, while another throws an unknown object at it. The suspect then reverses and drives through the crowd, narrowly missing at least two people.
Another man hops onto the roof of the cab but jumps off when it begins to move again.
It's at this moment the victim is struck and run over by the vehicle, which then leaves the scene.
Himsworth sent the video to CTV Montreal.
A second video surfaced Monday that shows a close-up view of the altercation, reported CTV Montreal's Stephane Giroux said.
It shows repeated attempts by the taxi to escape the mob of people surrounding the vehicle.
The taxi then does a 360-degree turn toward the crowd and one person is run over, he said.
The video also shows a close-up of the injured man who appears to be conscious on his back. CTV Montreal identified the victim as Benoit Kapelli.
"It gives us an even better idea of the tension if we mix it with the other video tape taken from the apartment above a few minutes before," Giroux said.
Local taxi drivers say that area of Montreal on St. Laurent at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. can be dangerous with some people on the street heavily intoxicated, Giroux said.
"The guy didn't do it on purpose, he was just panicking, an act of panic . . . he didn't do it on purpose to hurt the guy," one cab driver, Yoram Revivo, told CTV Montreal.
A bail hearing for Edmond is scheduled for Wednesday.
With a report from CTV Montreal's Mark Shalhoub and Stephane Giroux