Diligent Detective Helen Grus is being threatened with job loss or demotion for the allegation that she investigated a string of nine infant deaths that she was not the principal investigator for.
It’s a convoluted, twisty story, where seasoned Ottawa Police Service (OPS) detective Grus is alleged to have called a father to inquire about the COVID-19 vaccine status of one of the mothers involved in the sudden infant deaths (SIDS) that plagued the area.
She is also accused of contacting the coroner's office to obtain additional information.
Grus' lawyer, Bath-Sheba van den Berg began oral submissions seeking additional disclosure items and evidence against Grus at the OPS disciplinary tribunal on April 28.
She noted that Grus has been employed with the OPS for 20 years and has a spotless record, highlighting the need for the evidence against her to be robust and adequate to justify the economic loss and career setback the disciplinary action launched against her client would undoubtedly cause.
Grus was part of the Child Abuse and Sexual Assault (CASA) unit at OPS which is mandated by law to investigate all instances of sudden, unexplained death in children under the age of five.
CASA often works as a team to conduct research and investigations. It is argued that Grus was justified in asking basic medical history questions that are part of the SIDS questionnaire required by the task force to complete.
On lack of disclosure and evidence, Grus has attempted to bring forward motions on four separate occasions to obtain additional information around the specifics of her alleged discreditable conduct charge, the autopsy reports in question, and to subpoena CBC journalist Shaamini Yogaretnam that is said to have leaked the internal police investigation into Grus’ actions – effectively disrupting the ongoing investigation and resulting in a politically motivated vendetta against Grus.
Grus was first accused of insubordination for accessing the OPS database to probe into these nine infant deaths, but because the evidence against her was unsubstantiated, this charge did not move forward.
Grus now faces this second charge of discreditable conduct – a more broad allegation – and a charge that is almost verbatim to the initial, unsubstantiated allegation, but now includes the apparent phone call to a father and perhaps contact with the coroners in question.
In this particular hearing, van den Berg gave oral submissions on relevancy of the requested disclosure.
For instance, the subpoena to the CBC journalist Shaamini Yogartenam would help to establish where the confidential police investigation was leaked from. If from a police insider, it could be said to undermine trust in the police force and some would argue constitute a discreditable conduct charge in and of itself.
For the autopsy reports, van den Berg noted the broad timeline of the allegations against Grus, spanning June 2020 to January 2022, and cited the need for the reports to help adequately date the allegations launched against Grus, which she claims happened only after the CBC media leak.
Repeatedly it was said there was procedural unfairness and bias at play within the tribunal itself and within the OPS in persecuting Grus.
In the gallery there were approximately 15 to 20 people there to show solidarity for Grus.
“She’s being railroaded,” said one supporter. “She was trying to do her job and they’re putting up roadblocks and making an example of her.”
A former police officer was also present in the gallery who shared his thoughts:
I’ve seen lots of cases where there are police involvements in some sort of criminality but this case is particularly interesting because it looks like Helen [Grus] has been accused of something and she doesn’t even know what she is being accused of.
If she’s part of an investigations team that’s looking into infant deaths then of course she has to go to the pathologists, to the record, to the parents – anybody that’s involved and speak to any of them.
But for her authorities to try and prevent her from carrying out an investigation, then they are the ones that are wrong. This thing seems to be totally upside down and a knee jerk reaction from the police services itself.
It’s putting the cart before the horse. He who accuses, must prove. A police officer has either not done their duty correctly and then they get charted for neglect of duty but when someone is proactively doing their duty and then gets charged for that duty – it seems totally opposite to how it should be.
Another person hopes to see Grus exonerated. “I hope that she’ll be reinstated and applauded instead of taken down for this.”