Ottawa police detective Helen Grus’ defense lawyers continue to insist their client is a victim of bias and prejudice at her discreditable conduct hearing, which resumed this week. Grus’ crime: investigating the link between the Covid vaccines and a perceived uptick in sudden infant deaths.
The remainder of witnesses for the prosecution appeared Monday and Tuesday – former and current colleagues from Grus’ sex assault and child abuse (SACA) unit. Their testimony during defense’s cross-examination included ignoring Grus’ concerns over vaccine safety and relying on internal gossip to form their own professional opinion about the 20-year veteran.
Grus was charged with discreditable conduct on July 26, 2022 under Ontario’s Police Services Act for allegedly bringing Ottawa Police Service into disrepute by conducting an unauthorized investigation involving sudden infant deaths as well as her failure to log police database searches in her duty book.
Grus’ lawyers Bath-Shéba van den Berg and Blair Ector resumed their defence Monday morning under protest after trial officer Chris Renwick refused to hear their arguments for a stay of proceedings, pending their application for judicial review in Ontario’s superior court over denying Grus’ access to one of her duty books.
“Your refusal to hear the motion is another abuse of process, we should have a right to present this argument” van den Berg told Renwick, a former Ottawa police superintendent.
Professional Standards Unit investigator Jason Arbuthnot, who laid the discreditable conduct charge, testified in August that he saw only one duty book in his probe of the Grus’ conduct. Arbuthnot testified that Grus logged her RMS queries, but he did not see notes related to one phone call Grus made to the father of a recently deceased child.
But van den Berg said a second book, revealed during August’s hearing session but withheld from the defense, “may contain exculpatory evidence and has not been reviewed by Sergeant Arbuthnot when he made his decision and assertion – his conclusion that detective Grus did not take any notes.”
“We are continuing under protest,” she added.
Renwick responded that he was “not open to giving an adjournment at this time” and forged ahead with proceedings.
In addition to the duty book, Renwick has also denied Grus’ defense access to the related autopsy reports, electronic communications between police member witnesses and some related investigation notes. Renwick also denied the defense’s submission of perhaps the most shocking evidence of all: notice of a 36-hour wiretap of Grus and her family between Feb. 18-19, 2022, granted weeks after she was suspended at the end of January for refusing the Covid-19 shot.
While Renwick must decide if Grus is guilty of discreditable conduct for investigating a possible covid jab connection to sudden infant deaths, Grus job description as a SACA detective includes investigating sudden infant deaths.
On Tuesday, Grus’ defense also entered into evidence World Health Recommendations about recording adverse events following immunization, or AEFIs and questioned whether SACA unit and the coroners were doing any such diligence in sudden infant death follow ups and reports.
But testimony from current and former SACA members also indicate that Grus was alone among colleagues in her safety concerns about the Covid vaccines and whether they might be responsible for an uptick in sudden infant deaths.
SACA detective Chris Botchar told the tribunal under oath that he “heard a rumour that (Helen Grus) was printing off RMS files”, and that he “didn’t see a need (to look into the vaccine status of the mother)” after one infant died of an enlarged heart. In this case, Botchar said he “saw no evidence” of criminality.
The unit’s commanding officer, Sergeant Marc-André Guy, more-or-less echoed Botchar during August’s hearing.
“If there was information there was a link (between the vaccines and infant deaths), it’s still not a criminal matter…I would close the case,” he said.
On Monday, Botchar told the tribunal that post-Covid vaccine rollout “there were conversations (at work about the increase in baby deaths), I didn’t participate in them.” He also referred to Grus’ September 2021 email to police colleagues expressing concern about the experimental mRNA Covid vaccines, as a “diatribe… the manifesto of the right wing”.
Another SACA member and prosecution witness who cannot be identified due to a publication ban testified that she couldn’t remember how many sudden infant deaths occurred year-over-year, or even an average.
This same witness, “WC”, said she was aware of Grus’ safety concerns about the Covid shots but says she was unaware of Grus’ belief this could involve criminality.
Van den Berg attempted to probe vaccine safety concerns to establish Grus’ motivation, as “she had medical information that suggested that there are harmful side effects of the Covid-19 vaccination, and that those harmful side effects, or adverse events, include some of the same descriptions used in the preliminary autopsy reports of … six of the nine RMS searches that she’s alleged to have conducted.”
However, Renwick shut this down by saying the hearing “cannot and will not be a venue for opinions or theories that link vaccines to child deaths”.
As the defense has pointed out several times during the course of the disciplinary hearings, Grus’ communications about Covid-19 clearly indicate that she agreed the respiratory virus existed, while expressing misgivings about the public health response to the disease, including vaccine mandates and the Covid shots Grus said had injured several police colleagues.
Van den Berg also suggested during cross-examination of SACA detective Tara Anderson that she was jealous of Grus – in particular offers of promotion to the homicide unit that Grus had received – and this was the reason Anderson wrote three additional pages in her compelled statement for the Professional Standards Unit investigation of Grus’.
Anderson denied she was jealous, or that she was the source of the leak to CBC Ottawa for a pair of stories about Grus’ looking into vaccination status of mothers’ whose babies suffered from sudden infant death. Professional Standards Unit investigator Arbuthnot previously testified CBC’s coverage of Grus’ unauthorized probe formed part of the reason for his decision to charge her.
In the August hearing, it was learned that Arbuthnot’s unit had opened an investigation into the source of the media links but later abandoned it.
This current session of Grus’ disciplinary hearing continues until Friday in Stittsvile at Ottawa Police Service’s Huntmar Rd. detachment.
Correction: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information about testimony given by Ottawa police sergeant Jason Arbuthnot. The story has since been amended to accurately reflect his statements made to the Police Services Act tribunal.