Chaos Erupts at Hearing of Ottawa Detective as Lawyers File Report Accusing Superior of Witness Intimidation

Chaos Erupts at Hearing of Ottawa Detective as Lawyers File Report Accusing Superior of Witness Intimidation
The Ottawa Police Service building in Stittsville, Ont., where the hearings for the case of Constable Helen Grus are taking place, on Jan. 9, 2024. (Matthew Horwood/The Epoch Times)
Matthew Horwood

OTTAWA—A day after the head of Ottawa Police Service’s (OPS) Professional Standards Unit was accused of sending a “threatening” email to Constable Helen Grus—an OPS detective accused of discreditable conduct after investigating the vaccination status of the mothers of deceased infants—the constable’s lawyers filed a police report in the middle of a hearing.

“If I may stand, I’m a witness to a crime and I’m filing a police report right now. I’m an officer of the court,” lawyer Blair Ector abruptly said during a police disciplinary hearing in Stittsville, Ont., on Jan. 11.

After presiding officer Chris Renwick adjourned the hearing, Mr. Ector, defence lawyer Bath-Sheba van den Berg, and Ms. Grus then walked out of the room and filed a police report for the crime of witness intimidation targeting Const. Grus. On Jan. 10, the lawyers alleged that OPS Inspector Hugh O'Toole sent Const. Grus an “intimidating” email warning her not to use OPS internal documents as part of her defence.

The Epoch Times contacted OPS for comment. The OPS said in an email it would “not comment further on an ongoing Police Services Act matter.”

Const. Grus, a detective with the OPS sexual assault and child abuse unit investigating child abuse and neglect, faces a charge of discreditable conduct for allegedly conducting an “unauthorized project” between June 2020 and January 2022. She investigated the sudden deaths of nine Ottawa children, allegedly accessing OPS files and contacting the coroner’s office to learn the COVID-19 vaccination status of the parents to look for an association between the two.

On Jan. 30, 2022, Const. Grus also allegedly contacted the father of a deceased infant to inquire into the COVID-19 vaccination status of his wife, without the knowledge of the lead detective on that case. While Const. Grus was suspended without pay in February 2022, she was ordered to return to work with restrictions at an OPS internal hearing in October 2022.

The defence lawyers have argued that the prosecution has repeatedly failed to prove any of the elements of the three charges on Const. Grus’s accusation sheet—which include having self-initiated an unauthorized project, failing to record her involvement or findings in a file, and interfering in another ongoing investigation. They have also asked for her disciplinary hearing case to be dismissed.

Motion to Remove Prosecutor

The defence lawyers also introduced a motion to remove prosecutor Vanessa Stewart for prosecutorial misconduct. Ms. van den Berg accused her of threatening Const. Grus when she said the previous day that the detective had been “put on notice.”

“This motion is not written lightly. It’s based on the exact words, three words in particular ... used yesterday,” said Ms. van den Berg.

Mr. Renwick replied that the hearing was becoming “adversarial,” and the defence’s motion had put an “abrupt stop” to the hearings until it could be dealt with.

Later in the hearing, after a contentious debate with defence lawyers, Mr. Renwick said they had shown a “pattern of disrespect toward the hearing officer.” Ms. van Den Berg replied that there had been a “pattern of tribunal bias, sir, with all due respect.”

At the end of the hearing, when Mr. Renwick asked if there were any further matters to discuss, Mr. Ector said he did not want there to be any more threats levied toward Const. Grus. “We haven’t established there have been threats,” Mr. Renwick responded.

“Are you suggesting, sir, that we have not witnessed what we have witnessed?” Ms. van den Berg said. “We are actually officers of the court ... and we are informing the tribunal here that we have witnessed a criminal offence, and you are telling us that that is not true.”

Mr. Renwick responded he was “not even going to comment on what’s taken place today” as it “distracts so much from the task at hand.”

Mr. Renwick did not make a ruling on whether Const. Grus would be allowed to cite OPS internal documents in her defence, claiming he could not review the documents until a decision was made on whether to remove Ms. Stewart.

All parties agreed that the hearings will likely resume on Feb. 14 and 15.