Video shows Rob Ford inhaling from pipe, new documents reveal
Sonja Puzic, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Wednesday, March 19, 2014 10:17AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 19, 2014 6:23PM EDT
Newly unsealed documents reveal for the first time an official police description of the infamous video that appears to show Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. In another interesting revelation, the documents say police offered to show Ford the video under certain conditions, but he declined through his lawyer.
According to the documents, Ford is seen in the video lighting a glass cylinder and inhaling a vapour which “appears to be a narcotic.”
A judge ordered on Wednesday the release of additional search warrant information in the Project Brazen 2 investigation involving the mayor and his friend Alexander Lisi, who is facing drug and extortion charges.
Media lawyer Peter Jacobsen, who was among those arguing for the release of the documents, said Wednesday the documents make it clear that Project Brazen 2 is ongoing.
For the first time, the unsealed documents offer a police description of the Ford video. The video’s existence was first reported last May by U.S. website Gawker and The Toronto Star newspaper.
A detective who viewed the minute-long video found on a seized laptop said it “appears to have been filmed surreptitiously showing Mayor Ford consuming what appears to be a narcotic while inside a residence,” according to the search warrant information.
“Mayor Ford is holding what appears to be a glass cylinder in one hand and a lighter in the other hand while engaged in a conversation with individual(s) off camera ... At one point Mayor Ford holds the glass cylinder to his mouth. Lights the lighter and applies the flame to the tip of the glass cylinder in a circular motion,” the description reads.
“After several seconds Mayor Ford appears to inhale the vapour which is produced, then exhale vapour.”
Mayor is also heard saying the name “Liban” in the video, according to the document. Liban Siyad is an alleged victim of an extortion attempt to obtain the video.
At the end of the video, Ford’s attention is drawn towards something that looks like a cellphone being passed in front of the recording device, according to the document.
“Ford appears to look into the recording device. He then drops the glass cylinder and lighter on a table next to him; he briefly points at the camera and asks if it’s on.”
Video found on seized laptop
According to the police documents, the video was recovered after seven cellphones and a laptop computer were seized during Project Traveller, a Toronto police drugs and gangs investigation that led to raids and arrests last summer.
Although the electronic devices were seized on June 13, 2013, it wasn’t until Oct. 29 that police conducted a forensic examination of the laptop and found the Ford video.
The video was downloaded onto the computer on April 25, 2013, the examination found.
The laptop and cellphones were seized during Project Traveller from the residence of Mohamed Siad, the man who tried to sell the Ford video to news organizations through a “broker.”
In another video clip found on the seized laptop, Siad recorded himself “giving a short narrative of what was just captured,” according to the search warrant.
Siad talks about how someone can be recorded secretly and “then advises that’s how you would catch a person slipping,” according to the document.
“He then goes on to say ‘or even catch a mayor smoking crack.’”
According to the search warrant, there were three other video files on the laptop that appeared to be “merely failed attempts to record Mayor Ford.”
Attack on residents of 15 Windsor Rd.
The police documents also describe a violent confrontation that unfolded in May of 2013, after news of the Ford video broke.
The documents say that officers were called on May 21, 2013 to 15 Windsor Rd., a residence that Ford was believed to frequent. Fabio Basso, a resident of the home who was close to Ford in high school and helped campaign for him, recounted an incident during which a man walked into the house and started hitting him with a baton.
Basso’s girlfriend was also assaulted, according to police. The suspect did not take anything from the house.
Ford had opportunity to watch video
Months later, police canvassed Ford for an interview, according to police documents. They approached him between Oct. 28 and Nov. 7 and offered to show him the video under two conditions: he would not be able to discuss it with anyone and he would have to agree not to comment on the video.
However, Ford’s lawyer Dennis Morris told investigators the mayor “would not be coming in to see police,” according to the search warrant information.
Morris told The Canadian Press Wednesday that the conditions were “absurd.”
“We weren’t interested in that. If you want to show the video, show the world,” Morris said. “Don’t show it to me and the mayor and say, ‘You can’t discuss it.’ That’s absurd. It makes no sense.”
Morris called the release of the documents a waste of taxpayers’ money.
On Nov. 5., around the same time police were reportedly canvassing Ford for an interview, the mayor stunned reporters at city hall by admitting to smoking crack cocaine “in one of my drunken stupors.”
Since his crack use admission, Ford has repeatedly said he’d like to see the video and called on Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair to release it.
Earlier this month,Blair announced that the Ontario Provincial Police will assume an oversight role of Project Brazen 2.
Project Brazen 2 was launched in the fall after police became aware of the Ford video. It’s a spinoff of the Project Traveller investigation.
Lisi, who served as Ford’s occasional driver, has been charged with extortion in connection with the Ford video. He is accused of placing threatening phone calls to people he believed had the video.
Hundreds of pages of search warrant documents related to Lisi’s drug case were released last year. They revealed that police were closely watching Lisi’s and Ford’s movements.
In the documents released Wednesday, police say that their investigation established “that Lisi and Ford call and meet each other on a regular basis.
“Some of these communications and meetings have been indicative to that of drug trafficking.” the documents allege.
Ford, who is running for re-election this October, has not been charged with any crimes. None of the allegations contained in the search warrants have been tested in court.
Meanwhile, lawyers are seeking the release of more police documents related to Ford, Jacobsen said Wednesday.