Police apology to seriously injured victim of mistaken arrest
“I’m very keen to convey how appalled I am and the extent of the injuries that Mr Dimopoulos has suffered,” Mr Cornelius said.
“I would be looking to express to Mr Dimopoulos in the most clear terms that I’m very sorry that what has happened to him has happened.”
But he said police have not directly spoken to Mr Dimopoulos.
Mr Cornelius does not know if the officers involved have been suspended while an investigation is carried out, saying it was not his decision to make.
It is understood Mr Dimopoulos fled the apartment thinking he was the target of a hate crime.
Mr Cornelius, who led the Victoria Police response to sex discrimination and sexual harassment, said the residents already feared for their safety.
“In this case, it’s very clear to me we’re dealing with people who were for some time concerned for their safety,” he said.
“Of course you’d be expecting they’d be fearing the worst.”
Mr Dimopoulos, who is known as a pioneer of Melbourne’s gay dance party scene, was hospitalised with extensive injuries. Surgeons were forced to take bone grafts and insert pins to repair his badly shattered arm and shoulder.
Multiple specialist units, including the dog squad and air wing, were searching properties around Johnston Street for an “armed member of a Lebanese gang”, who was seen in a stolen car linked to a violent home invasion and carjacking in Brighton East on May 5.
A male “fitting a description given to members” was seen at an address before 2.30am, police said.
Heavily armed officers, including those from the critical incident response team, then stormed the apartment above the well-known gay community bookshop.
Mr Dimopoulos’ housemate, prominent gay writer and activist Crusader Hillis, said police failed to identify themselves as they stormed the apartment, and his friend fled in fear.
He said Mr Dimopoulos was left “screaming and crying in pain” on the road after police restrained him.
“By the time I got there, he was bunched into the gutter with hands in plastic restraints. There were several armed police around him, some dressed in riot gear and semi-automatic weapons,” Mr Hillis said.
The Hares & Hyenas shopfront has been an important gay community hub for almost 30 years. Mr Dimopoulos staged regular dance events in Melbourne, Sydney and London. He was due to host an event in Britain on May 25.
Jeremy King, of Robinson Gill Lawyers, said his clients wanted police to be held accountable for the mistaken arrest.
“They are currently considering their legal options. We will not let this matter rest until those involved have been held accountable,” Mr King told The Age.
Police Minister Lisa Neville has demanded a “full explanation”, while Minister for Equality Martin Foley took to Twitter to say he was “deeply shocked and distressed” at the attack.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the government would do whatever was required to assist Mr Dimopoulos.
Rachel is a breaking news reporter for The Age.
Erin covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.
Matilda reports breaking news for The Age
Chris Vedelago is an investigations reporter for The Age with a special interest in crime and justice.