Montreal cab driver charged in alleged hit-and-run granted bail
Montreal— The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, May. 02, 2012 3:29PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, May. 02, 2012 3:37PM EDT
A judge has granted bail to a Montreal cabbie charged in an alleged hit-and-run that is making the rounds in a gruesome video on the Internet.
The release comes with several conditions.
Taxi driver Guercy Edmond is forbidden from working in certain areas, and from having contact with three people involved in last weekend's altercation.
Before granting bail, Judge Jean-Pierre Boyer called the man's four-day detention scandalous and unnecessary. The judge offered other criticisms of how authorities handled the case.
Today's news will be greeted warmly by scores of fellow taxi drivers who have been crowding around the courthouse, honking their horns in support of the accused — the 47-year-old Edmond.
New details emerged at today's hearing of the events that led to the alleged hit-and-run, which left a young man in hospital with serious injuries.
According to police, Mr. Edmond had already tried mowing down the victim once, even before the cameras started rolling.
That was just one of many alleged details to emerge at the hearing for Mr. Edmond, who faces four charges following the morbid scene that was videotaped and posted online.
A Montreal police investigator, Detective-Sergeant Frederic Gagne, told the bail hearing that the videos only tell the second part of the story
Witnesses told police that an altercation over a fare turned hostile and that the accused tried running over his victim, Benoit Kapelli, slamming into a lamp post in the process.
The police officer says Mr. Edmond told authorities he simply lost control of his car.
That initial incident allegedly caused damage to the car and was just one step in an escalating confrontation.
The alleged hit-and-run, which occurred at almost 4 a.m., was preceded by a dispute in the cab over a fare, amid heavy traffic with three passengers who were intoxicated, according to Mr. Edmond's testimony to police.
According to that testimony, the issue of race came up during the dispute. There was allegedly a verbal exchange during the ride about rituals like voodoo and female genital mutilation.
Mr. Edmond is Haitian. The three passengers were white.
The dispute was apparently also over whether the fare was $9 — as claimed by Mr. Edmond — or $5, as claimed by a trio of passengers.
During the argument, Mr. Edmond claims he was struck by Mr. Kapelli inside the cab.
Later, before eyewitnesses began filming, Mr. Edmond is alleged to have tossed a bottle at the passengers.
Mr. Edmond is charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, hit-and-run and dangerous driving.
The diminutive cabbie, who rents his vehicle and has been driving for eight years, doesn't usually drive downtown and is based at the airport.
Mr. Gagne testified Wednesday that Mr. Edmond told him he was seeking a few additional fares that night so he headed downtown.
Scores of fellow cab drivers who support Mr. Edmond gathered outside the courthouse this morning. They pushed and jostled for place in a courtroom to be able to hear the case. An overflow room had to be opened for the large group.
They have blocked the street in front of the courthouse, honking their horns in support of his cause. They are calling for him to be released on bail.