Detective Grus — who is alleged to have accessed Ottawa Police records to determine the COVID-19 vaccination status of mothers whose babies had died suddenly — had oral submissions heard today regarding applications seeking clarification of the claims against her, and further disclosure.
The issue heard at the proceeding on April 28 pertained to a three-part consolidated motion brought on behalf of Grus by her lawyer Bath-Sheba van den Berg.
The motions were heard by retired superintendent Chris Renwick who oversees Ottawa Police Services (OPS) disciplinary hearing matters.
Van den Berg asserts that there have been repeated requests for additional disclosure on the case of Grus, who is being accused of discreditable conduct for calling the father of a deceased infant to inquire about the COVID-19 vaccination status of the baby's mother.
She has previously requested 37 separate disclosure items, of which 20 have been denied by Renwick.
Requested disclosure items include copies of the coroner's autopsy reports, the particulars around Grus’ charge, and a subpoena or investigation into who was responsible for leaking the otherwise private police investigation to the CBC.
The relevancy of the disclosure items is being disputed by the tribunal.
Van den Berg contends relevancy and attempts to establish a legal nexus – that is, a connection between the requested items and how they are relevant to the case against Grus.
For instance, van den Berg argues that because of the broad timeline of the allegation against Grus — spanning from June 2020 to January 2022 — the coroner's reports would help clarify, hone in on, and establish a more robust timeline.
The discreditable conduct claim is broad, too.
Grus is accused of “accessing and investigating” the OPS database, in addition to the phone call allegation. Yet Grus was exonerated from the claim that her access of the internal police database was unlawful after the initial subordination claim launched against her was dismissed for lack of substantive evidence.
This new, second allegation carries a broad scope of misconduct, which van den Berg notes is almost verbatim to the initial charge that was unable to be substantiated.
Van den Berg notes that the timeline for the launching of the second allegation appeared only after CBC journalist Shaamini Yogaretnam published internal OPS investigation information, something she says clearly constitutes a media leak. Van den Berg reiterates the importance of the autopsy reports to establish this timeline.
”The public needs to trust the police to exercise their discretion to complete an investigation thoroughly and that information must be confidential and private. When information is leaked to the media, the public needs to know how and why that happened and who did it,” said van den Berg on establishing nexus and relevancy of the subpoena.
Van den Berg calls the question of relevancy in the motions disconcerting. She notes that a phone call is part of an investigation and Grus was part of a unit that worked as a team to conduct their research and investigations.
“Here we have an officer making a phone call, which is in line with the SIDS questionnaire that asks at least four questions about parents medical history. When it is not completed that would mean the investigation is not being carried out diligently, especially in an unexplained death. Asking vaccine status was [Grus’] duty and role to complete," van den Berg asserts.
Counsel for the OPS was Angela Stewart, who claimed that the issues of motions had clearly been decided upon, and requested that all motions be dismissed. Stewart states that van den Berg’s motions were a “circumvention” of process and should not be entertained by the tribunal.
This is a long winded, convoluted case that involves the real possibility of conspiracy and meddling between at least one mainstream media journalist, a senior official at the Public Health Agency of Canada, her daughter and the law firm in which she works, and perhaps also OPS employees.
Van den Berg highlights that Grus has exemplified professionalism throughout her 20 year career with the OPS, as evidenced by her spotless record. For this reason, the case against Grus must be clear, with robust evidence, to support that the threat of demotion or dismal is justified.