The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) on Thursday said that the Victorian Police’s 2019 raid on iconic LGBTIQ bookstore Hares & Hyenas in Fitzroy and the injury caused to LGBTQ event promoter Nik Dimopolous were not linked to “race and sexuality”.
VIC 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.
“IBAC’s Operation Lynd has found Victoria Police officers had reasonable grounds to enter and search the premises in Fitzroy given the nature of the offenses suspected to have been committed and the information available to the officers at the time,” IBAC Commissioner, Robert Redlich QC said.
“IBAC found the force used by police in restraining Mr. Dimopoulos was not disproportionate to the officers’ objective of arresting Mr. Dimopoulos, as the police involved reasonably believed such force was necessary to arrest a person who was struggling with the police,” said Commissioner Redlich.
Commissioner Redlich added that “IBAC did not find evidence that Victoria Police officers’ decisions to enter the premises or their actions in relation to Mr. Dimopoulos were linked to the race or sexuality of the parties involved.”
The IBAC investigation, which looked into whether any criminal offenses or breaches of discipline were committed, found that Dimopoulos’ human rights had been ïmpacted” as the police officers did not “advise him of the reason for his arrest, make him aware of his rights, or officially release him from custody”. The IBAC has asked the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police to ascertain why the officers failed to act as per the obligations cast on them under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and take appropriate action against them.
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.
IBAC said that it had suggested a number of improvements are made to Victoria Police’s systems and processes. “Arising from IBAC’s review of other incidents involving Victoria Police’s CIRT, and as part of our overall oversight of Victoria Police, IBAC has particular concerns about a range of ongoing and potentially systemic issues concerning CIRT. These issues include the use of force, training, and capability around key functions and inadequacies in CIRT’s policies and procedures,” Commissioner Redlich said.
View the full report IBAC here.