TORONTO – Rob Ford and his brother Doug Ford are defending a campaign volunteer who faces assault charges following a video stunt involving a masked man on Wednesday afternoon.
The mayor said all his campaign staff do a “phenomenal job” while Doug Ford was a little more forthright, saying the 60-year-old campaign worker “did the right thing.”
The campaign worker, William Byers, was charged with assault, mischief and theft after a confrontation with 43-year-old Paul Benoit. Benoit allegedly entered the campaign office around 3:30 p.m. wearing a Rob Ford mask, carrying a camera and videotaping inside.
The video of the incident posted on YouTube shows Benoit walking into the office where he was met by Byers.
“Put that camera away. Get out of here. I’m calling the cops,” a man in the background is heard yelling.
Police said in a media release that Byers escorted Benoit from the premises and then a fight broke out in front of the campaign office.
It is alleged Byers kicked Benoit’s camera out of his hand, punched him in the face and took his microphone.
“I thought that I would be asked to leave but I did not think that I would get shoved, kicked and punched and basically assaulted for doing my Citizen Journalism,” wrote Benoit in his YouTube video description.
Benoit was initially taken into custody but was later freed Wednesday evening after showing police his footage.
“I was questioned by Police at 41 Division and released without charges after this video exonerated me.”
Benoit claims he was attempting to find someone who would actually vote for the mayor.
Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother and campaign manager, was furious about the incident when Global News caught up with him Wednesday evening.
“We live in a democratic society. You don’t go out and start barging into people’s campaign offices and disrupt,” he said.
Ford’s Scarborough campaign office is located in a strip mall on Lawrence Avenue East near Avenue.
Byers is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 7.