Toronto Police have recovered the video that appears to show Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, Toronto police Chief Bill Blair said Thursday. Blair said at a press conference, “The video files depict images that are consistent with what has previously been reported” in the media. Ford has long denied the video existed.
Blair also said Alexander Sandro Lisi will face an extortion charge related to the video. The Star earlier reported that Lisi was involved in attempts to recover the video. Ford has been the target of a police investigation that witnessed and photographed him taking part in meetings with Lisi, according to police documents released Thursday.
Police recovered a video during their investigation, Blair said. “It's safe to say the mayor does appear in the video,” Blair told reporters.
For those that need a refresher: In May, Gawker and the Star both reported that their journalists had seen the video of Ford, Toronto's Quimby-like mayor, smoking what by both accounts was pretty clearly crack cocaine. Neither outlet published the video for one simple reason: The man who took it was hoping to secure himself a six-figure payday for its release, a total that neither the American website nor the Canadian newspaper were willing to pony up. Gawker later held an online fundraiser, but ultimately lost contact with their connection before the buy could happen. As we learned today, the tape is now in the hands of local police.
The footage hasn't been made public yet, although it will likely eventually come out in court before it's all said and done. The video is going to get the most attention, but the police investigation includes plenty of other damaging revelations about Ford, including the fact that police reportedly photographed him in more than 100 secret meetings with an accused drug dealer during the past six months. Still, at this point anyway, Ford has not yet been charged with anything. As for the video itself, Blair said he was "disappointed" after seeing it, but added that nothing in it would provide grounds to press charges against the mayor.
One might assume that the investigation will spell political doom for the conservative mayor, but then again one would have assumed the same thing when reports of the tape were first published this spring. And yet, nearly six months later, Ford remains the mayor of North America's fourth-largest city.
Even the Star, which has long documented Ford's alleged drug habits and other scandals, seems resigned to the fact that Ford may yet survive this crack-themed episode, as evident by this line in their report on today's big news: "For Ford, the tough campaigner who leads Ford Nation, it remains to be seen whether the fact that police surveillance teams spent the summer watching him consort with drug and weapons dealers will have an impact on the former Scarlett Heights football player’s popularity."
Elsewhere in Slate: A Video Introduction to Rob Ford, Toronto's Alleged Crack-Smoking Mayor