'Witness intimidation': Helen Grus's defence team files criminal complaint against senior Ottawa cop

Minutes before Grus was expected to testify during Wednesday's proceedings in her disciplinary tribunal, she received an email from the head of OPS's Professional Standards Unit warning her not to cite any OPS documents during her testimony.

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Const. Helen Grus's lawyers filed a criminal complaint with the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) on Thursday, alleging that Insp. Hugh O'Toole, who heads the OPS's Professional Standards Unit (PSU), sought to intimidate their client via an email sent on Wednesday.

Grus, an officer with the OPS's Sexual Assault and Child Abuse (SACA) section, is being accused by the OPS of having committed discreditable conduct — which could lead to her demotion or termination — for having inquired about possible links between an increase in infant deaths brought to the OPS's attention and the "vaccination status" of the decedent infants.

The OPS alleges that Grus carried out an "unauthorized project" with this inquiry, which allegedly involved contacting family members of the babies who had died to determine if their mothers had been injected with COVID mRNA vaccines.

Minutes before Grus was expected to testify during Wednesday's proceedings in her disciplinary tribunal, she allegedly received an email from O'Toole warning her not to cite any OPS documents during her testimony. Grus's testimony is still pending as the two parties dispute the matter of O'Toole's email.

"He is intimidating a witness," Blair Ector, one of Grus's lawyers, said. He described the email as an "unconscionable" instance of "tampering" with a witness. He said he and Bath-Sheba van den Berg, his colleague and the other half of Grus's defence team, were "witnesses to a crime" following their observations of the email.

The PSU operates as an internal affairs component within the OPS, ostensibly investigating allegations of OPS employee misconduct. The unit  recommended Grus be accused of discreditable conduct following its investigation of her inquiry.

"I witnessed a crime. I want to report a crime," Ector said, adding that he intended to summon O'Toole to the tribunal and question him as a "hostile witness".

Ector also described prosecutor Vanessa Stewart's demand that OPS documents not be introduced into the tribunal's proceedings without prior authorization from the OPS as "witness intimidation." Stewart previously said that Grus "is on notice" that the OPS has not approved any citation of its documents within the proceedings, and that the defence team would "be in breach" if it referred to any OPS documents without OPS permission during its arguments.

Hearing Officer Chris Renwick, the de facto judge overseeing the tribunal's proceedings and a retired OPS officer, has consistently sided with the prosecution's objections to all instances in which the defence sought to introduce OPS documents as exhibits or evidence.

Van den Berg has repeatedly asked both Renwick and Stewart to cite the OPS policy or legal principle justifying the denial of admission of OPS documents into proceedings.

At the beginning of Thursday's proceeding, Ector submitted an application to have Stewart dismissed as prosecutor. Renwick said the tribunal could not meaningfully proceed until he issues a decision on this request.

Van den Berg said Renwick has demonstrated a "pattern of bias" in favour of the prosecution and against the defence across the course of the tribunal. She previously described Renwick as occasionally operating as "a second prosecutor."

The tribunal is expected to resume for a day in February with more dates in March, pending the parties' agreement to scheduling.

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