Nik Dimopoulos, the Melbourne man who suffered a serious shoulder injury during a botched Victoria Police raid, has demanded more police accountability on use of excessive force.
On May 11, Dimopoulos was asleep in an apartment above queer bookstore Hares and Hyenas in Fitzroy when he heard intruders in what he feared was a home invasion.
But unknown to Dimopoulos, the intruders were Victoria Police’s Critical Incident Response Team. The officers had stormed the wrong home while searching for an armed offender.
Fearing an altercation or homophobic violence, Dimopoulos tried to escape to the street outside. But he was grabbed from behind, forced into the gutter and restrained.
In the violent struggle, the man’s arm was “ripped from its socket” and several arm bones were shattered.
As a result of the injury, Dimopoulos has experienced loss of movement in his right arm which may be permanent. He has had two surgeries to try and restore movement, and expects more.
Dimopoulos, who is now suing police, said he thought he was “going to be killed” trying to escape from the officer whom he believed were intruders.
“I didn’t identify any faces, and so my thoughts went from a break-in to a group of people intentionally here to come in and possibly kill us,” he told The Age.
“I just can’t explain how much fear was just brewing inside me. It was just insane.
“I saw very close up to my head, someone’s foot, a pair of boots, and the tip of a rifle.
“And that’s again another point where I just started going: ‘This is it,’ you know? This is the end.
“This is definitely the point where they’re going to shoot me.”
Dimopoulos’ surgeons told 60 Minutes the injury was one of the worst arm injuries they’ve seen.
Victoria Police apologise for incident
Earlier this year, Victoria Police admitted the officers had “stuffed up” and apologised for the case of “mistaken identity”. Victoria Police have been helping pay the man’s medical expenses.
“It is clear to us that our attendance at that property was a mistake,” Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said.
“It is very clear to us that those injuries are very serious and the nature of those injuries demand explanation.”
Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) launched an investigation into the case.
The investigation is examining Dimopoulos’ insistence the officers didn’t identify themselves as police.
Dimopoulos now wants the Victorian Government to strengthen oversight so police are held accountable for use of excessive force.
“I want … accountability for this and for the public to know very bluntly what happened here and why they made this mistake,” he said.
“I’ve spent most of this year trying to recover from the incident with police and now live with pain on a daily basis.
“I think that those involved should be closely investigated.
“I really just hope that lessons are learned by the police so that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
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