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Video of the peculiar drink-throwing incident involving Mayor Rob Ford briefly surfaced online this week, only to be taken down a day later.
A demo reel put together by Ossington Creative and posted to the Toronto marketing company's website on Wednesday captured the moment when a woman lobbed a drink in the vicinity of the mayor during the Taste of Little Italy street festival on June 15.
Ossington Creative's Kent Plummer recorded the incident while shooting footage for a short campaign-style video commissioned by the mayor's office and released last month called "The Summer of Ford."
After NOW made inquiries to the mayor's office and other parties, the footage of the drink-flinging was deleted from Ossington Creative's online demo reel sometime Thursday afternoon. NOW retained a copy, however.
The mayor and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, have offered a different account of the bizarre summer episode than has the woman who now admits to tossing a cup of organic peach tea in the direction of the chief magistrate.
In an interview published in the Toronto Star last Saturday, Shannon Everett said that she didn't throw the beverage at the mayor, but in his direction, and that the peachy projectile landed several metres away from him.
Last month Everett's lawyer told reporters that the drink "wasn't thrown at [the mayor], it was thrown in an empty area where there were no people."
For his part, Ford has made statements suggesting he was harmed in the affair. On his radio show the following day he said, "That hurt, man. When it hits you in the face you don't expect it, right?"
In a scrum on June 17 Councillor Ford said that liquid from the drink had hit the mayor and its acidic content had stung him. "Obviously the juice had acid in it because it was burning his eyes," he told reporters at City Hall.
The recently surfaced footage lasts less than four seconds, but still sheds some light on one of the strangest incidents of Mayor Ford's term.
If the video is played at full speed, the cup of tea is almost invisible. But in slow motion, the drink can be seen sailing behind the mayor as he speaks with a small crowd of people. It appears to land a short distance behind him.
Although the video is blurry, as the cup of liquid flies by it does not appear to splash the mayor's face or eyes. He does not immediately react as though he is hurt. He squints and points to something out of camera range, then the video cuts to a shot of him and his staffers running through the College street crowd. A woman in a green dress who appears to be Everett can be seen moving quickly away.
Everett was confronted by the mayor's entourage shortly after, arrested and charged with assault. The charge was withdrawn last month after Ford decided not to pursue the matter, and Everett agreed to make a $500 contribution to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
The mayor's office declined to speak on record for this story, and Councillor Ford's office did not respond to an emailed request seeking clarification of his comments about the incident.
Ossington Creative's Plummer told NOW he decided to post the footage after reading Everett's interview in the Star, which he felt misrepresented how close the drink came to hitting Ford.
Plummer asserts that the mayor's staff did not ask him to take the video down but he did so of his own volition on Thursday because he didn't want to give Ford's office "a headache." Brendan Croskerry, who sometimes works as Ossington Creative's lead music composer, is also employed as the executive assistant to Ford's chief of staff Earl Provost.
NOW provided Everett with a copy of the footage as well as three still frames from the video. She told us she was not aware the drink-toss had been caught on camera, but did not respond to subsequent emails seeking her comment.
Update: On Saturday afternoon, Everett sent NOW an email in which she said she felt vindicated by the new footage. "This video is proof that the dramatic claims Rob Ford made about me that day are false," she said. "The video confirms he was not harmed, and his eyes were not stung with acid."
In a follow-up interview, Everett was asked if she stood by the claim that she threw the drink into an empty area and it landed metres away from Ford. She said she did.
With files from John Semley and Jonathan Goldsbie.