Toronto police will not charge reporter Daniel Dale over Mayor Rob Ford incident
Police investigators have “found no evidence” that Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale was on the mayor’s property or looked over his fence last week and will not be charging him in connection with his well-publicized confrontation with Rob Ford.
“I closed off the investigation,” Det. Tricia Johnston told Dale in a phone conversation Wednesday afternoon. “There’s nothing left to do.”
“You’re not being charged.”
Police closed the investigation late Wednesday afternoon after they accepted Dale’s offer to allow investigators to view any photos, videos and emails on his BlackBerry, which has been in police custody since the incident took place last Wednesday night.
The phone was previously in Ford’s possession after Dale surrendered it to the mayor during the heated confrontation behind his Etobicoke home.
Ford has alleged multiple times through the media that Dale “peered” over his fence and took photographs of his backyard. He has also repeatedly claimed that his next-door neighbour, Zdravko Gagro, saw Dale standing on stacked cinderblocks behind his fence. Gagro has since declined to verify this to the Star or other newspapers, however.
Ford claims Dale’s actions were captured by surveillance video, which he immediately turned over to police as evidence. On Wednesday, investigators told Dale they viewed the video but would not describe what was on it.
They said, however, they found no evidence to warrant allegations that Dale was on Ford’s property or peering over his fence.
“No (there is no evidence you were doing those things). Because if you were, then you would’ve been charged,” Johnston told Dale. “I didn’t find any evidence to substantiate a charge.”
Police have now viewed the BlackBerry in the presence of Dale and his lawyer and the phone contains no photographs or videos of Ford’s home, backyard — or any at all taken over the course of that evening.
The sole photograph Dale recalls taking — which he said would have captured trees in the park behind Ford’s house, along with the mayor’s back fence — failed to save on his BlackBerry because the battery died as he was snapping the photograph.
Dale has continually maintained he went to Ford’s home last Wednesday to research the mayor’s bid to buy public parkland from the city, which is a highly unusual request for a private citizen to make. Due to an unclear map provided by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Dale mistakenly thought the parcel of land in question was located behind Ford’s house; this is where he was standing when the mayor confronted him.
According to Dale’s account of the incident, he was standing in a public park behind the mayor’s home when an “extremely agitated” Ford approached him and accused him of spying.
He said the mayor then charged at him with a cocked fist, prevented him from leaving and demanded he drop his cellphone, which Dale did, along with his tape recorder. Dale then fled the area and called the Star newsroom from a nearby gas station.
Dale said his cellphone battery died shortly before he surrendered his BlackBerry to Ford and police received a call about a “possible trespass” at 8:10 p.m.
Phone records show, however, that someone used Dale’s cellphone at 8:37 p.m. to call Rob Andreacchi, executive assistant to Maria Augimeri and the last person Dale called. Andreacchi did not pick up and at 8:50 p.m. he returned the call, which went unanswered.
According to Dale’s BlackBerry — which police have now returned — he received an email from a Star editor at 8:17 p.m., acknowledging she’d received two sentences Dale wished to add to his story that day.
The editor sent the email at 7:51 p.m., however, which indicates the phone was likely charged shortly around 8:17 p.m., about 25 minutes after Dale’s encounter with Ford