Detective facing discreditable conduct charge for probing COVID vaccines takes stand in defense
Detective facing discreditable conduct charge for probing COVID vaccines takes stand in defense

Little more than six weeks before Ottawa Police Service enforced its COVID vaccine mandate, high-ranking officers, including then-chief Peter Sloly heard vaccine injury testimonials from several officers, according to Det. Helen Grus’ testimony at her disciplinary hearing which resumed on Monday.

The 20-year OPS veteran and mother of three stands accused of discreditable conduct under the provincial police services act for probing a possible link between the COVID vaccines and an uptick in local sudden infant deaths.

As Grus has not spoken to journalists about the allegations, this week’s hearing has been the first opportunity for the public to hear her version of events.

“They spoke at this town hall and told their stories,” Grus said of a Dec. 16, 2021 meeting between rank-and-file members and police brass. “They wanted Chief Sloly and Deputy Chief (Trish) Ferguson to hear what was going on and their concerns, all of our concerns.”

Appearing as a witness in her own defence, the former sex assault and child abuse (SACA) detective testified that Sloly and then-Staff Service Sgt. Peter Danyluk were also the only senior members she got any feedback from regarding her “suspicion” COVID shots may have played a role in the deaths.

Grus’ testified that she presented what amounted to preliminary findings at a Jan. 13, 2022 town hall meeting showing a “two or three times” increase in sudden infant deaths since the vaccine rollout compared to a typical year.

Before Grus could continue her probe, she was put on a leave of absence for refusing to get the COVID vaccine. She was suspended with pay Feb. 4 while internal affairs began investigating her conduct.

Grus maintained investigating sudden deaths of children five-and-under was part of her job. According to her testimony, Sloly was aware of possible vaccine injuries among police members as far back as September 2021, when Grus sent a mass email to police members questioning the safety of the COVID vaccines and whether OPS would assume all liabilities for any negative health outcomes associated with mandating it across the force.

“Is OPS aware of the adverse effects their own membership has experienced upon receipt of the EUA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2?” asked Grus in her September electronic missive, the preamble of which praises Canada, its freedoms enshrined in the constitution, and how Christianity informs her values in life and policing.

Grus testified she knew of four colleagues who suffered heart issues following COVID vaccination. Neither the OPS nor the Ottawa Police Association union have responded to requests about the number of officers who’ve reported vaccine injuries.

Grus testified this week that she believed if the COVID vaccines were responsible for the infant deaths that criminal negligence could be at play as government agencies and their officials had consistently assured the public that the shots were safe and effective.

Grus’ SACA colleague, Det. Chris Botchar – one of seven police witnesses for the prosecution – described her letter during cross-examination last year as “a manifesto of the right-wing.”

And while Grus’ September email earned her a mention from the chief who thanked her in an email for her concerns, Grus was rebuked for posting it by her overarching supervisor Staff Sgt. Shelley Rosetti and immediate supervisor Sgt. Marc-Andre Guy; both ordered Grus to refrain from talking about COVID or the vaccines at work.

An element of her misconduct charge hinges on the allegation she engaged in an “unsanctioned special project” and interfered in a lead investigator’s file by calling the father of a deceased child to determine the vaccine status of the mother.

But during testimony in January, Staff Sgt. Maj. Danyluk told the tribunal that he spoke with Grus about her probe and as far as he was concerned, nothing seemed amiss.

“She wasn’t asking my permission, she was just bouncing ideas off me like ‘I’ve seen the statistical anomaly.’ I think she said it was double the amount of SIDS,” Danyluk told the tribunal.

“It’s so basic, it didn’t raise any red flags for me.”

Grus’ lead counsel Bath-Sheba van den Berg also asked her client about a 2023 performance review and the detective-constable read into the record another exemplary evaluation.  

Though suspended with pay Feb. 4, 2022 pending an investigation, then charged at the end of July, Grus said she was brought back into the OPS fold in late-October 2022 and assigned to the robbery unit where she continues to work while dealing with the ongoing misconduct charges.

Like previous, stellar performance reviews in 2020 and 2021 from her SACA superiors, Grus’ latest evaluation of her robbery unit work concluded she “meets or exceeds all expectations”. According to her 2023 detective stats, Grus converted 73 investigation files into 151 criminal charges.

“I was actually very relieved and grateful,” said Grus of her 2023, post-charge review. “I love policing. I’m happy to be in the robbery unit working with some of the best officers. And this just solidified that I can still do the job actively, even under pressure even under the pressure and the charges I’m facing.”  

As for the discreditable conduct charge, Grus denies she is guilty based on her adherence to Sir Robert Peel’s 1829 Principles of Policing, an unofficial credo about protecting the public by upholding the law without fear or favour.

“We are not there to public pander to public opinion…my duty as a police officer is to preserve life and property, preserve the peace. And if I see any one of those situations arising where I need to step in to preserve life, I will do something and that’s what I did in good faith as a police officer.”

Police prosecutor Vanessa Stewart and Jessica Barrow of Ottawa law firm Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall are expected to cross-examine Grus later this week.

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