Bill Blair deeply regrets the plain meaning of his words

Bill Blair deeply regrets the plain meaning of his words

Earlier this week, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair put his foot in his mouth and bit down, hard, during an interview on CBC’s Metro Morning. While referring to a YouTube video that had been used by the SIU to determine whether Toronto’s police had gotten out of hand in arresting Adam Nobody, Blair referred to “tampering” in the video that showed police arresting “a violent, armed offender.” In response to that, the SIU called Blair’s bluff and demanded the chief turn over any new evidence he had. Based on this Friday-afternoon press release, Blair has been given some legal advice about falsely accusing people of crimes (the classic definition of libel):

I wish to make it clear that, notwithstanding there was a five−second gap, there is no evidence to suggest this was done with any intent to mislead. I regret the impression my comments may have created.

In an effort to demonstrate the potential significance of the missing audio and video, I said police were attempting to arrest an armed criminal and that the missing video images might have shed light on the reasons force was used. This statement created a false impression that I wish to clarify. I have no evidence that he was armed or violent and all charges against the injured man have been withdrawn. I regret the false impression that my comments may have created and apologize to Mr. Nobody.

The next step will be to see if the SIU re-closes its investigation now that Blair’s allegations have been withdrawn.  Given that, during the initial investigation, they didn’t find a single police officer they could charge despite the evidence of unnecessary roughness, we sort of hope they keep looking a bit longer this time around. And to Chief Blair we say, you’ve just been lawyered.

G20 statement from Chief William Blair (PDF) [Toronto Police]