A Toronto taxi driver has been charged with second-degree murder after a longboarder was killed in a collision on Monday, in what police believe to be a deadly incident of road rage.
Adib Ibrahim, 43, was charged after police were called to investigate a collision at the intersection of King Street East and George Street at the height of rush hour just after 6 p.m. ET.
The longboarder, 28-year-old Ralph Bissonnette, originally from Coaticook, Que., was thrown to the curb and his longboard snapped in two. He was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries but was pronounced dead on arrival.
The circumstances surrounding the collision are not clear, but Toronto police Det. Sgt. Terry Browne has said that investigators have obtained a security video that captured portions of the incident.
"It was only as the investigation sort of unfolded, and witnesses were spoken to who were on the scene, that there may be more to this than we first thought," Browne said.
Police had initially believed the death was a tragic accident, but they now allege Bissonnette was intentionally run over after a verbal exchange with a cab driver. He had been skating in the curb lane with a taxi beside him in the passing lane when the vehicle suddenly swerved and struck him, investigators say.
"Based on what I'm seeing from the video that I've seen so far, and the independent personal witnesses that we've spoken to so far, it certainly doesn't present as an accident," Browne said.
Bissonnette was a chef who lived with his common-law wife. The woman did not wish to speak to the media.
Accused remanded into custody
Ibrahim, who friends say has been driving a taxi for 15 years, was remanded into custody after appearing in court on Tuesday. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 22.
Friends and fellow cab drivers gathered in court on Tuesday, in support of the accused.
A driver named Elias Abrahim told CBC News that Ibrahim is originally from Ethiopia. He has a wife and two children and lives in the west end of the city.
Abrahim said his friend’s long service as a cab driver is a testament to his careful nature on the road.
"I told you he’s been driving over 15 years, this shows you how much [of a]
careful driver he is," he said.
"This is the worst thing which can happen to any driver, not only taxi driver, any driver," he added.