Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he has "no reason to resign" after Police Chief Bill Blair confirmed investigators have recovered a video of the mayor that has been widely reported in the press and charged Ford’s personal friend Alexander Lisi with extortion.
“I think everybody has seen the allegations against me today. I wish I could come out and defend myself. Unfortunately I can’t, because it’s before the court and that’s all I can say right now,” Ford told a crush of reporters outside his office at City Hall. He then said he had no reason to resign and vowed to get back to work, before abruptly leaving the building through a side entrance.
The brief, seemingly unprepared statement was made just hours after Toronto police announced charges against Lisi and confirmed that they had secured a video that has been described in the press as depicting Ford smoking from a crack pipe.
In May, Gawker and the Toronto Star reporters confirmed viewing a video of the mayor smoking what appears to be a crack pipe, believed to have been shot in a location known to police as a “crack house.”
The video was recovered from a device obtained during a massive drug bust in June. Blair said police investigators managed to recover the deleted file earlier this week.
“The digital video file that we have recovered depicts images which are consistent with those that have previously been reported in the press,” Blair said at a Thursday press conference.
“As a citizen of Toronto I am disappointed. This is a traumatic issue for the citizens of this city and for the reputation of this city and that concerns me."
Ford previously said that he could not comment on “a video that I've never seen or does not exist.” It appears, however, that Ford’s friend may have known where the video was being held.
Police documents released by the court on Thursday suggest a massive police investigation that resulted in drug trafficking charges against Lisi was launched after Gawker and the Star reported that Ford was caught on video smoking from a crack pipe.
The files released on Thursday pertain to Project Brazen 2, an investigation spun from drug bust, which resulted in the drug trafficking arrest of Lisi. Lisi is Ford's longtime friend and occasional driver, who has been described by the mayor as a "good guy." He is alleged to have been involved in a violent search for a copy of a video that the Star and Gawker claim shows Ford smoking from what appears to be a crack pipe.
Full coverage: Rob Ford
The documents are filled with incidents of bizarre meetings between Lisi and Ford which were watched at photographed by police investigators. Media lawyer Peter Jacobsen told CP24 the documents confirm the investigation was prompted by those allegations and that Ford himself was the original focus.
The documents include photographs that show Ford and Lisi meeting in public places and conducting what Jacobsen referred to as "very suspicious activity."
Jacobsen said that on several occasions, police observed Ford and Lisi meeting in secret, passing packages between cars and, at least once, meeting at a gas station without acknowledging that they knew one another.
"All of this really cries out for an explanation from the mayor," Jacobsen told CP24. Blair himself says he has not spoken to Ford about the latest revelations, but told reporters that we was disappointed by the entire affair.
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