Hours after the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) cleared the Victorian Police officers who had conducted a raid on iconic LGBTIQ bookstore Hares & Hyenas of any blame, the legal team representing the victims said the fight was far from over.
Robinson Gill Lawyers, who represent LGBT event promoter Nik Dimopoulos and Rowland Thomson and Crusader Hillis, owners of Hares & Hyenas, in a press statement said: “they will continue to exhaust every legal avenue available to them to right this horrific wrong, including requesting that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) review their case and start preparing their cases for civil litigation.”
“These findings are unjust, contradictory and blatantly disregard the law. They need to be urgently reviewed by the DPP and the courts,” said Jeremy King, principal lawyer at RGL. “IBAC’s findings today concerning the police raid on Hares & Hyenas store are disappointing, legally contradictory and galling. This sets a dangerous precedent for policing in Victoria. It is yet another example of the under-resourced and broken police complaints system,” RGL stated.
Dimopoulos, who suffered a serious injury in the incident expressed his disappointment. “I am bitterly disappointed and angry about these contradictory and unjust findings,” he said.
“These findings are gut-wrenching, wishy-washy and heartbreaking. Today is a dark day for us and the community,” said Thomson. Hillis added that the findings were “reflective of a deeply unjust system.”
The IBAC on Thursday said that the Victorian Police’s 2019 raid on the Hares & Hyenas in Fitzroy and the injury caused to Nik Dimopolous were not linked to “race and sexuality”. The police were also cleared of using “disproportionate force” to arrest Dimopolous who was seriously injured in the incident. IBAC, however, found that Dimopoulos’ human rights were impacted and asked the Victorian police commissioner to take appropriate action against the officers.
The IBAC, state’s anti-corruption watchdog, had launched the investigation called Operation Lynd, into the conduct of Victorian police officers who had raided the bookstore in Fitzroy on May 11, 2019. Nik Dimopolous, who was sleeping in an apartment above the bookstore owned by his friends, woke up, and assuming it was a gay bashing or home invasion attempted to flee to the street. The police tackled Dimopoulos, took him to the street and handcuffed him. He sustained a serious injury to his right shoulder.
Read the IBAC full report here.