Police in Toronto, Canada are investigating whether the original owner of a video allegedly showing Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine was killed over the footage, the Globe & Mail reported on Monday.
The newspaper reported that two separate sources said authorities interviewed a senior member of Ford’s staff regarding the possible link between the video and the killing of 21-year-old Anthony Smith, who is believed to appear in the video with Ford. Smith was shot dead in March.
The video’s original owner was reportedly killed because of the potential value of its contents. Both the Toronto Star and Gawker reported on the footage on May 16, saying Ford can be seen calling himself “fucking right-wing” and using racist and homophobic language. Gawker subsequently began a “Crackstarter” online campaign to raise the money to buy the video, which had collected more than $184,000 as of Monday morning.
Ford denied the existence of the video in a short statement on May 24, saying, “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.” According to CBC-TV, he and his brother, City Councillor Doug Ford, excoriated the media on their weekly radio show on Sunday.
“80 percent of them are nasty son of a guns,” Doug Ford said, at which point the mayor cut in, calling reporters a “bunch of maggots.”
Rob Ford also doubled down on his denial of the video after being asked about it by a caller.
“There’s no video, so that’s all I can say,” he said to a caller. “You can’t comment on something that doesn’t exist.”
He also complained that it was impossible to please the local media.
“You can give them 10 bars of gold and they’re going to want — why don’t I give 15 bars of gold?” the mayor said on the show. “Well, you know what, folks, that’s the media that we have, unfortunately.”
While Rob Ford left the show early, Doug Ford stayed on and accused Toronto media members of smoking cocaine while also denying a Globe and Mail report that he was a drug dealer in the 1980s.
Update, 2:24 p.m. EST: CBC reported that Rob Ford’s press secretary and deputy press secretary have both resigned “on principle,” four days after the mayor fired his chief of staff, Mark Towhey. Towhey had reportedly advised him, “You have a problem. Go away and fix it.”
Watch CBC’s report on the mayor and his brother’s lashing out at the media, aired Sunday, below.