TORONTO – Toronto police Chief William Blair says police have recovered a video of Mayor Rob Ford as part of an investigation focused on a video purporting to show Ford smoking crack cocaine.
The video contains “images consistent with those that had been previously reported in the press,” Blair told reporters on Thursday, adding that investigators extracted the file from one that was deleted on a hard drive seized in Project Traveller raids.
Blair appeared to be referring to reports from Gawker and the Toronto Star in May – reporters said they’d been shown a video of someone who looked like the Mayor smoking what looked like crack cocaine.
Ford has called these allegations “ridiculous” and said he “cannot comment on a video I haven’t seen or does not exist.”
“It’s safe to say the Mayor does appear in the video,” Chief Blair said Thursday.
There’s nothing in the video that would allow police to “form reasonable grounds” to lay a criminal charge, he said.
When reports of the video first surfaced, Toronto Police said they were “closely monitoring the situation” but have refused to say whether they were investigating the Mayor.
Blair’s statement comes hours after hundreds of pages of court documents were released, revealing that Mayor Ford was the focus of a lengthy police investigation.
None of the statements in the documents have been proven in court.
Blair also revealed that Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, arrested on drug charges Oct. 1., is charged with extortion.
The chief said he has personally watched the crack video and believes it relates to events at a home on Windsor Drive where “we believe” it was originally recorded. In documents released this week, police refer to this address as a known drug house.
A photo of Ford outside that house became infamous earlier this year as the public tried to figure out the Mayor’s connection to – among others – Anthony Smith, who also appeared in the photo. Smith was shot to death outside a downtown Toronto nightclub on March 28.
The mayor has denied his picture with Smith shows he has ties to drug dealers.
Lisi was to appear in court later Thursday, and Blair refused to give out any more information on the video or the case against a man Ford has referred to as a good friend.
“As a citizen of Toronto I’m disappointed,” Blair said. “It’s an issue of significant public concern.”