A Montreal cab driver has been freed on bail after a weekend hit and run that reportedly came after passengers disputed a fare and made racially charged comments.
Guercy Edmond, 47, who is charged with aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, hit and run and dangerous driving, got bail with several conditions after the incident early Sunday morning that was captured on camera by at least two witnessess and left a 23-year-old man in hospital.
Edmond's wife must sign an undertaking with the court, meaning she would forfeit $3,000 if he breaches his conditions.
Edmond is also not allowed to contact the victim or take customers in his cab on Saint-Laurent Boulevard between Sherbrooke Street and St. Joseph Street, from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m ET.
At Edmond's bail hearing, court heard Edmond picked up three men on Saint Laurent Boulevard near Milton Street and the passengers disputed the fare on the meter after the taxi was stuck in a traffic jam. It's unclear if the meter read $5 or $9, court was told.
Edmond testified, saying he tried to call 911 but was unsuccessful. His lawyers said he was headed in the direction of the police station when he drove away.
A Montreal police detective at the hearing said the passengers were very intoxicated and made remarks about race and female genital mutilation to the driver. The three passengers are white and the accused is black.
Soon after, the men got out of the taxi and the driver continued north on Saint-Laurent a short distance to Rachel Street.
The hearing was also told the man hit by the cab suffered from a perforated spleen, two fractured ribs, lung lesions and bruises. He remains in hospital.
Taxi drivers rally around colleague
Before the hearing began Wednesday morning, dozens of Montreal taxi drivers started demonstrating in front of the court, chanting, “Free Guercy” and blocking traffic with their vehicles.
Cab driver Ari Perekowitz said outside court that the profession can be dangerous.
"This is not the first incident that a taxi driver is under a panic. This is not going to be the last one," he said.
Witnesses told police the driver tried to drive into the victim, who was standing near a light standard, but the man got out of the way, court was told.
People circled the taxi, calling the driver crazy and kicking the vehicle.
That’s where the cameras started capturing the dispute.
The videos show the vehicle turning around as objects were thrown toward it and members of the agitated group shout at the driver.
At one point, a man jumps on the cab's roof. Court was told that man wasn't one of the three passengers in the cab earlier and has no apparent link to them.
On Monday, Edmond's lawyer said his client was in shock and felt he was under attack when he tried to drive away from the scene.
The hearing continues Wednesday afternoon.