The charges against an Alberta man in the killing of a man who appeared in a controversial photo with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford were reduced from murder to accessory after the fact Friday.
Hanad Mohamed, 23 was originally charged in May with first-degree murder and attempted murder after the killing of Anthony Smith, 21, in downtown Toronto.
But prosecutor Mary Misener announced Friday that the Crown has decided to withdraw those charges and instead charge him with accessory after the fact to manslaughter, accessory to discharging a firearm, and accessory to committing aggravated assault.
“He’s very happy. Obviously, he’s pleased the first-degree charge has been withdrawn,” said Fariborz Davoudi, Mr. Mohamed’s lawyer.
“That’s good. Looks good,” said Sagal Ugaas, Mr. Mohamed’s aunt. “He’s doing well. He doesn’t have freedom, though.”
Another young man, Nisar Hashimi, 23, was also originally charged with murder in Mr. Smith’s death, but also had his charges reduced, and pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this month.
Mr. Smith, 21, was gunned down after a dispute between two groups of men outside of a club on King Street West in the early morning hours of March 28. Another young man, Muhammad Khattak, 19, was also wounded, but survived.
According to an agreed statement of facts in Mr. Hashimi’s case, Mr. Hashimi pulled out a handgun and fired several shots into a crowd after the dispute erupted. Mr. Mohamed is accused of helping Mr. Hashimi to escape.
The case has received intense media attention after an image surfaced of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford standing with his arms around several of the young men present at Mr. Smith’s killing.
In the photo, a hoodie-wearing Mr. Ford is seen smiling with Mr. Smith, Mr. Khattak and a fourth man, Monir Kasim.
Police have since charged Mr. Khattak and Mr. Kasim with drug trafficking, and accused both of being members of the Dixon City Bloods street gang. Both men were arrested in Project Traveller, a year-long police operation to dismantle the Dixon City Bloods, culminating in a massive series of police raids in Etobicoke last month.
The image emerged alongside reports of an alleged video that appeared to show the Mayor smoking crack cocaine. Owners of the alleged video, who attempted to sell it to a number of news outlets, provided the photo as proof of Mr. Ford’s alleged involvement with the drug trade.
Mr. Ford has called reports of the video “ridiculous,” and maintains that he does not smoke crack cocaine.
Before Mr. Mohamed’s appearance, his father Abdulkadir said that his son is innocent, and that there is no connection between Hanad and the mayor.
“They’re trying to connect something that can’t be connected. It’s politics,” he said.