Police ‘deeply sorry’ over ‘stuff up’
VICTORIA Police have issued a lengthy apology after breaking the arm of a Melbourne man during a botched raid on Saturday morning.
Nik Dimopoulos was inside a home at Fitroy, above the well-known community bookshop Hares & Hyenas when police stormed in about 2am.
Mr Dimopoulos, who is gay, feared he was about to become the victim of an "anti-gay home invasion" and fled.
Police, who had been searching for a man responsible for a nearby carjacking, arrested him in street outside the property. The victim suffered a broken arm that required surgery and there are fears he may have sustained permanent damage.
The bookshop owner, Crusader HIllis, wrote on Facebook that the officers did not identify themselves.
"They just stormed into a dark room shining torches and it was impossible to identify them as police," he wrote.
Mr Hillis said Mr Dimopoulos thought "it was an anti-gay home invasion (and) rushed out the door".
But the officers, including police from the heavily-armed critical incident response team, chased Mr Dimopoulos and arrested him in the gutter.
"At no time did the police when they were chasing him say 'stop, police' as you would expect," Mr Hillis wrote.
"He could only see boots and rifles and was assuming he was going to be bashed or shot. He said he thought he was about to be killed."
Mr Dimopoulos is now in hospital, "with the likelihood of losing the use of his left arm, which is broken in several places from the shoulder down," Mr Hillis added.
"The surgeon described the injury as 12 on a scale of 1 to 10."
Surgeons were forced to insert pins into Mr Dimopoulos' shattered arm and take bone grafts to try and repair it.
Jeremy King, from Robinson Gill Lawyers, confirmed to The Age Mr Dimopoulos was "considering legal options".
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius addressed the media this morning, telling reporters he was "deeply sorry" for what took place.
"It is clear to us that our attendance at that property was a mistake," he said.
"Very clear to us that police stuffed this one up. Very clear to us that the injuries occasioned by the individual who was arrested by police. Very clear to us that those injuries are very serious and the nature of those injuries demand explanation."
He said an investigation was underway but denied the raid had anything to do with the "homophobia".
"I am confident there is no evidence that the police attendance at the premises in the early hours of the morning on Saturday at Fitzroy was in any way associated with any sort of homophobic motivation on the part of the police concerned."
Premier Daniel Andrews said yesterday the Government was offering Mr Dimopoulos and his family support.
"It would have been terrifying, he's obviously got serious injuries, and I want to assure every Victorian he's getting the very best of care," he said.
"We will look very closely at what has happened."