Nik Dimopoulos, the man who suffered permanent injury when his arm was ripped from his socket after Victoria Police mistakenly arrested him in May, has spoken out in an exclusive interview with The Age and 60 Minutes.
“I just can’t explain how much fear was just brewing inside me,” Dimopoulous said in The Age. “It was just insane.”
Dimopoulos was mistakenly arrested and severely injured during a botched police raid at Hares and Hyenas, a queer bookshop and community hub where he lived.
“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 said.
Awoken by the sound of voices he didn’t recognise and fearing for his safety, he tried to flee the building when he was tackled by police and handcuffed on the footpath. It resulted in an injury that his surgeon, Dr Sushil Pant, described as one of the worst shoulder fractures he had ever encountered.
Since the night, he has had two surgeries to restore some level of movement to his arm.
To do their job, police officers are given special powers, including the right to use force. But what happens when they take it too far? Now, a joint investigation by #60Mins and The Age reveals shocking incidents where police are accused of crossing a dangerous line. Their victims have suffered life changing physical injuries as a result, and come up against a flawed complaints system and a police culture where covering up seems more important than the truth.
Posted by 60 Minutes Australia on Sunday, 27 October 2019
“Even if I was the person they thought I was—and I still don’t know who that person is, and still don’t have any follow up—is it necessary to have put that person … through that level of harm?” he said.
Dimopoulos insists that the police officers did not identify themselves, and this claim is now the subject of an investigation by Victoria’s Independent Broadbased Anti-Corruption Commission.
Dimopoulos is now suing the police and has called on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to strengthen oversight so that police are properly held accountable when they use 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 don’t know enough about what laws apply to (police). But if this experience has anything to do with it, it, it makes absolutely no sense.”
While the IBAC’s investigation is still ongoing, The Age has reported that Victoria’s integrity chief and senior police have called on Daniel Andrews to give the state’s anti-corruption watchdog more power to investigate police misconduct, something he has yet to act on.