Victoria Police have launched an internal investigation after a botched police raid at a Melbourne apartment resulted in an innocent man being arrested and having his arm broken in several places.
Heavily armed officers allegedly stormed the residence attached to LGBTQ community bookshop and cafe Hares & Hyenas in Fitzroy, at about 2am on Saturday while searching for a man suspected of a home invasion and carjacking, ABC reports. According to residents, the police wrongfully and violently apprehended 47-year-old Nik Dimopoulos, tethering his arms behind his back in such a way that caused serious fractures. There are fears that Nik may now completely lose the function of his left arm.
Housemates Crusader Hillis and Rowland Thompson, who co-own the Hares & Hyenas bookshop-cafe, both posted a detailed recount of the incident on Facebook on Saturday afternoon. In it, they allege that police failed to properly identify themselves at any point during the misguided raid. That post is as follows:
Police Minister Lisa Neville, meanwhile, announced in the wake of the incident that the community deserved a “full explanation” and that “this matter will be rightly subject to a full investigation.” Victoria Police has since confirmed that a man was mistakenly arrested and seriously injured by specialist police officers during an operation in Fitzroy.
“Police stuffed this one up,” said Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius. “Our attendance at the property was a mistake... I am appalled by the extent of the injuries. On behalf of Victoria Police, I am very deeply sorry.”
Members of Victoria Police’s professional standards investigation team have visited Nik in hospital to get a better understanding of his side of the story, according to NewsCorp. He has already undergone multiple surgeries since being admitted on Saturday, and Assistant Commissioner Cornelius admitted the man's injuries “are very serious” and warrant “a thorough and independent investigation.”
“As a senior member of Victoria Police, it is always of concern to me when police get it wrong,” he said.
The investigation will reportedly focus on understanding why police decided to enter the premises in the first place, as well as whether or not they identified themselves and why and how the use of force was applied. Assistant Commissioner Cornelius doesn’t believe that Nik or the store was targeted for homophobic reasons—insisting that there is “no evidence that the police attendance was in any way associated with any sort of homophobic motivation on behalf of the police”—despite that being an earlier concern.
It’s understood that at least five officers initially attended the property on Saturday morning before being joined by others, including the dog squad. The officers involved in the arrest have not been stood down from active duty.
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