MONTREAL - A taxi driver accused of running over a pedestrian, in a morbid scene circulating on the Internet, was afraid during the incident that he was under attack, his lawyer said Monday.
Four charges were laid Monday against a Montreal cabbie allegedly involved in the incident. Guercy Edmond appeared in court where he was charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, hit-and-run and dangerous driving.
The 47-year-old taxi driver talked quietly with his lawyer, Yves Vaillancourt, who said his client had been certain he would be released Monday. To his surprise, the court ordered that Edmond remain in custody until his bail hearing Wednesday.
"He seemed to act more like a victim than an accused," Vaillancourt later told reporters.
"For him, he was under attack — that's about the only thing he told me," Vaillancourt said.
"I asked him what he was accused of and to that he replied: 'I was attacked.' He did not say, 'I hit something.' He said, 'I was attacked.'"
Videos posted on the Internet show a taxi driver involved in a late-night weekend dispute with several people — and then show the cabbie's vehicle running over one of the pedestrians.
The 23-year-old pedestrian is in hospital with serious — but not life-threatening — injuries.
One video posted to YouTube shows the conflict escalating, with a group of men kicking at a car and one man jumping on its roof. Moments later, the vehicle drives right over one of the men. The car then darts away, down the street.
Edmond's friends and family came to the courthouse to show their support during his brief appearance Monday. One man, who described himself as a close family friend of the driver, expressed sadness for everyone involved in the events that occurred early Sunday morning.
"The incident is unfortunate and my whole heart is with the family," Steven Joseph told reporters.
"I'm deeply sorry for the victim," Joseph added. "It's very sad, very sad."
The accused was also getting sympathy from the community of cabbies.
Archulus Mamu, a 57-year-old taxi driver, said he didn't think his peer would have deliberately run someone over. Mamu, who has been driving a taxi in Montreal for 12 years, said he has also had trouble in the past with customers who would get aggressive.
"When it happened to me I just took off and it ends there," he said. "We can't report things to the police because it takes time for them to come."
Karl Hofbauer, a cabbie for 54 years, said he has never worked during the wee hours, like when the weekend incident took place.
"You never know what you can expect at four o'clock (in the morning)," he said while waiting for a fare outside the Montreal courthouse.
"I think (Edmond) got scared because he was only one person and they were more," Hofbauer said. "I feel sorry for him, that's for sure."