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Lawyers for the Ottawa Police Service challenged detective Helen Grus’ story that she was acting on legitimate police business when she pursued “a mere hunch” that a spike in local sudden infant deaths could be related to the COVID vaccines.

“She had a hunch, not a mere hunch,” said Grus’ lawyer, Bath-Sheba van den Berg, objecting to the police service lawyer’s parsing of Grus’ testimony.

Grus took the stand last week in the disciplinary hearing that has lasted nine months so far.

Vanessa Stewart, serving as a de facto prosecutor, replied that Grus was “an experienced police officer who has indicated…on the record all the serious cases that she’s been involved in.”

“So for me to go through the spectrum of grounds (for an investigation) that exists should be a fairly simple procedure, if we can just get through it without an objection every single time.”

Earlier in the week Grus testified that, days before being put on unpaid leave for declining a COVID vaccine, she told a colleague that the uptick “should be flagged and monitored.” 

The OPS case against Grus is that she violated the code of conduct by using police resources for an “unsanctioned special project” based on her personal beliefs. An aggravating factor includes the absence of any notes for a Jan. 30, 2022 telephone call to the father of a deceased child inquiring about the mother’s vaccine status.

Grus stands accused of discreditable conduct for what she testified last week was a “tip of the knife” information gathering exercise based on her suspicion of a link between COVID vaccines and an increase in local sudden infant deaths.

As a detective in the sex assault and child abuse (SACA) unit, investigating deaths of children five-and-under was part of Grus’ job but when immediate superiors forbade her from talking about COVID or COVID vaccines in early 2022 just weeks before the police vaccine mandate deadline of Jan. 31, Grus took her concerns to the top.

During cross-examination, Ottawa police counsel Vanessa Stewart remained adamant that personal motivations guided Grus’ probe and suggested that the 20-year veteran pursued her “mere hunch” contrary to conditions placed on her.

“This particular (infant death file query) coincides with the personal research on a personal USB stick, not an OPS stick, all of which is admitted,” said Stewart, as she pressed Grus on her activities.

Grus denied she broke any police policy regarding her queries of the infant death investigation files or her research on COVID vaccines while acknowledging that looming vaccine mandates were taking a personal toll.

Earlier in the week, Grus testified about several officers who suffered post-jab injuries and that high-ranking officers were well-aware of this weeks before the mandate deadline. She also wrote a mass email in September 2021 asking whether the police force would be liable for any negative health outcomes related to the COVID vaccine and for this advocacy had become a polarizing figure.

“We were forced to take the vaccine to keep our jobs. So is it personal? Yes, because I’m losing my livelihood. But in the context of policing, I was an able-bodied police officer ready and willing to work,” said Grus.  “But I wanted informed consent. I had a right to that. And so I collected this information.”

Seizing on Grus’ earlier testimony that criminal negligence may have occurred given that public health authorities told the public that the COVID vaccines were safe and effective, Stewart suggested several times during cross-examination that the detective had already “launched the investigation” and was not forthright with police brass on this point.

Again, Grus pushed back.

“My bringing up the increased baby deaths is because babies lost their lives, families lost their babies – innocent families, loving parents, lost their babies. That’s why I brought up the concerning rise in (SIDS)  investigations,” she said. “What I stated is that we need to keep track of what’s going on.”

Citing a twin defence of reasonable care and due diligence, Grus’ counsel van den Berg argued last week that regardless of whether COVID vaccines are responsible for the infant deaths, her client acted within her authority as a detective-constable and in good faith based on an empirical increase of SIDS cases that Ottawa police investigated in a calendar year. 

By Friday afternoon when Renwick adjourned the tribunal, parties could only agree that at least another week’s worth of hearing days are required to finish cross-examination and respective closing arguments. This is before Renwick can even contemplate his verdict. 

“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Renwick said, even after OPS lawyers told him their earliest availability could be December. 

Additionally, police co-counsel Jessica Barrow gave notice about a portion of their cross-examination Ottawa police wants done in-camera,inviting media to make submissions at a future, undetermined date.

Renwick also added into evidence a sealed copy of Grus’ unredacted duty book containing her final entry on Jan. 30, 2022 before being suspended. The book was subject of a Dec. 8 appellate court ruling which kicked the entire matter back to the tribunal. Van den Berg had sought judicial review of Renwick’s decision preventing Grus access to her book, which she says could contain exculpatory evidence.


  • Jason Unrau

    Jason is based in Ottawa. He is a former Parliamentary Press Gallery reporter. He enjoys public interest journalism.