TORONTO - The former high-profile Ontario cabinet minister criminally charged in the death of a bicycle courier says he's innocent of the accusations against him.

Michael Bryant made the comments in a statement Wednesday announcing his resignation as CEO of Invest Toronto, a brand-new corporation tasked with attracting investment to the city.

"Let me be clear: I am innocent of the very serious accusations made against me," Bryant said in a letter to his boss, Toronto Mayor David Miller.

"I do not believe, however, that I can continue in this position on account of the circumstances of the past two days."

The former attorney general, who announced he was leaving politics in May, is facing charges of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death after an alleged confrontation Monday night with bicycle courier Darcy Allan Sheppard.

Ontario's Ministry of the Attorney General is in the process of retaining independent counsel to prosecute the case, said spokesman Brendan Crawley.

He declined to comment further until the details are finalized.

Miller, who is also chairman of Invest Toronto, called Monday's incident "tragic and sad on many levels."

"My condolences remain with the family and friends of Darcy Allan Sheppard. My thoughts are also with Mr. Bryant and his family at this difficult time," he said in a statement accepting Bryant's resignation.

Police say Sheppard, 33, grabbed onto a car following an altercation with the driver. They say the driver drove away with Sheppard hanging on. He then fell and suffered fatal injuries.

Sheppard's girlfriend says he was drinking the night he died.

Misty Bailey said Sheppard was drunk when he visited her and he rested and slept, then insisted on going home.

Bailey said she didn't ask him to leave and would have loved for him to stay where she knew he'd be safe.

Sheppard, at one point, was in the back of a police cruiser and Bailey asked police to drive him home, but instead they let Sheppard go, she said.

Police have said they responded to a call about Sheppard barely an hour before his death, but added there were no allegations of criminal activity.

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