Crown files direct indictment against former Halifax bouncer accused in 2022 homicide

The Crown has filed a direct indictment to send a former bouncer at a Halifax bar straight to trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on charges of manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death.

Alexander Pishori Levy, 38, is charged in the death of Ryan Michael Sawyer, who was found unconscious on a sidewalk outside the Halifax Alehouse on Dec. 24, 2022, at about 1:15 a.m. 

The 31-year-old Ontario man, who was home visiting family in the Halifax area, was taken to hospital but died later.

Police took a suspect into custody in December 2022 but released him without charges.

Levy was arrested last Aug. 16 after he turned himself in at Halifax Regional Police headquarters. He was arraigned in Halifax provincial court later that day and released on $2,000 bail with the Crown’s consent.

Last month, lawyer James Giacomantonio advised the court that Levy was electing to be tried in Supreme Court by a judge and jury.

Dates for a preliminary inquiry in provincial court were expected to be set Tuesday, but the Crown exercised its discretion to use a direct indictment to bypass that step in the legal process.

Giacomantonio will appear in Supreme Court on Feb. 15 to begin the process of setting dates for his client’s jury trial.

Levy’s bail order requires him to live with his surety — his mother — at her home in Halifax. 

He is not allowed to work in any bar, nightclub or place whose primary purpose is the sale of alcohol, or in “any occupation that would involve the use of force with members of the public.” 

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He’s also prohibited from having contact with six potential Crown witnesses, including Sawyer’s twin brother Kyle. 

Levy and another Alehouse employee, Matthew Brenton Day, 33, of Dartmouth, are charged with assaulting a male patron during a different incident at the bar Oct. 10, 2022. That trial is set for three days this spring in provincial court, beginning April 30.

Civil lawsuits

Ryan Sawyer’s family has filed a civil lawsuit against both the Alehouse and Levy in Supreme Court.

The suit claims Levy intentionally assaulted Sawyer, “choking Ryan until and after he lost consciousness.”

The Alehouse was negligent in employing Levy, the family alleges, when it “knew or ought to have known that he posed a risk to the safety of customers and visitors to the premises.”

The suit claims the Alehouse failed to adequately train employees to prevent the assault and battery of customers.

Kyle Sawyer, who was with his brother that night, has also launched a suit against the bar. In his suit, Kyle alleges security guards “wrongfully and intentionally” assaulted him by stomping and punching him on the head and body.

He says the assault “was harsh, malicious, reprehensible and disregarded the well-being of the plaintiff.”

The suit says the Alehouse breached its duty to the plaintiff to ensure he was reasonably safe on the premises.

The allegations in the suits have not been proven in court. In statements of defence, the Alehouse denies any wrongdoing.

The bar’s statements of defence say the Sawyer brothers were not customers at the bar, were trespassing on the property and each struck security when they were asked to leave.

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The security guards were properly trained and “acted reasonably on the date in question,” the Alehouse’s filings say.

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