Lawyers Accuse Officer of Witness Tampering, Intimidation of Detective Who Looked Into COVID Vaccine, Child Deaths

The lawyers allege that Const. Helen Grus received an ‘intimidating’ email from the officer saying that she couldn’t use OPS internal documents for her defence.
Lawyers Accuse Officer of Witness Tampering, Intimidation of Detective Who Looked Into COVID Vaccine, Child Deaths
A close-up of an Ottawa Police officer’s badge is seen in Ottawa on April 28, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Adrian Wyld)
Matthew Horwood

The lawyers for Constable Helen Grus, an Ottawa Police Service (OPS) detective accused of discreditable conduct after investigating the vaccination status of the mothers of deceased infants, accused the head of the service’s Professional Standards Unit of intimidating Const. Grus by emailing her directions not to use OPS internal documents for her defence.

“That’s witness tampering, that is intimidation, that is obstruction. This tribunal should be outraged. I am trying to pull back from exceeding anger from this,” lawyer Blair Ector said during a police disciplinary hearing in Stittsville, Ont., on Jan. 10.

“That is beyond unconscionable and we‘d like to call him as a witness and I’d like to cross-examine him as a hostile witness.”

Const. Grus’s lawyers alleged that before she was set to take the stand, she received an “intimidating” email from OPS Inspector Hugh O'Toole, who said her use of OPS internal documents would be an offence.

They claimed Const. Grus’s inability to use the documents would hamper her defence.
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. Const. Grus 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.
Const. Grus’s lawyers have argued that the prosecution has failed to prove any of the elements of the three charges on her  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 asked for her disciplinary hearing case to be dismissed.

‘Terrifying’ for Police Officers Defending Against Misconduct Allegations

Prosecution lawyer Vanessa Stewart said that defence counsel had been repeatedly “put on notice” that the OPS would not allow its internal documents to be “handed out inappropriately” and put into the public record. Ms. Stewart added that she told the defence counsel in the fall of 2023 that they would need to put forth a disclosure request for the OPS documents.

“They’re trying to circumvent the procedures to get all these documents into the record without even putting someone on the stand, even in light of what I’ve said on Monday that my client doesn’t consent to all of these documents being released,” Ms. Stewart said. “I find that to be very problematic.”

Defence lawyer Bath-Sheba van den Berg responded that the OPS had no written policy requiring permission to access OPS documents for Const. Grus’s defence. “We have to ask the Crown, the prosecutor, for permission for the defence?” she asked.

“That is not democracy. That is not the rule of law. That is terrifying for police officers who have to answer to these allegations of misconduct,” said Ms. van den Berg.

Hearing officer Chris Renwick, who is adjudicating the hearing, said he was concerned that allowing Const. Grus to use OPS documents would amount to “carte blanche to access and submit any and all OPS records, documents, policies, orders, and anything else for the purpose of the defence.” However, Mr. Renwick also said it would be “erroneous” to not allow Const. Grus to use OPS documents as it would “significantly hamper the defence.”

Mr. Renwick also said he had not yet read Const. Grus’s affidavit and therefore did not know what parts of the OPS documents were present in it. He adjourned the hearing and said he would make a decision the following morning. Mr. Renwick also said he would provide a decision on whether Mr. O'Toole would be called to testify.