09 Swinger, Joker or victim? Pair seeking damages
VICTORIA Police officers have been accused of bashing and Tasering a man dressed as The Joker after they shot him in the back at a King St nightclub. New details of what allegedly happened following the Inflation nightclub shooting on July 8 have emerged as lawyers acting for Dale Ewins and Zita Sukys launch what they say are “the most significant police shooting compensation claims in the history of the state of Victoria”. Mr Ewins, 35, and Ms Sukys, 37, told the Sunday Herald Sun that by taking legal action against the force they hoped “Victoria Police improves the training of police officers handling guns”. The couple were shot by members of the Critical Incident Response Team at 3.54am while they were engaged in a sex act in the back corner of the first floor of the Melbourne club during a “Saints and Sinners” swingers’ party. Victoria Police said only that it continued to investigate the incident. Police have claimed Mr Ewins pointed a firearm at officers. Ms Sukys, who was dressed as comic book character Harley Quinn, was shot in the right thigh and right knee, while Mr Ewins, dressed as The Joker, was shot twice in the back. The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal police have been accused of punching Mr Ewins in the face and Tasering him a number of times, including once in the chest, after he had been shot. They then allegedly stood on his hands and threw him against the wall as they took the badly injured man down the stairs of the club. A statement of claim is to be lodged with the Supreme Court tomorrow. Kim Price, partner at Arnold Thomas & Becker, told the Sunday Herald Sun: “It defies belief that police charged with responsibilities of the CIRT can barge into a nightclub, hardly make an assessment of the situation and, within a few seconds, shoot totally innocent members of the public so easily.
“Victoria Police are extremely fortunate that they do not have the death of Mr Ewins on their hands.
“These are the most significant police shooting compensation claims in the history of the state of Victoria.
“Unfortunately, Dale is still being investigated by Victoria Police.
“We say that it is the police who should be subjected to the investigation and serious charges against them ought to be laid.”
Police said they opened fire on Mr Ewins after responding to an emergency service call regarding a man armed with a firearm.
Mr Ewins had taken a toy gun to the party as part of his costume. He is set to be interviewed by members of the Armed Crime Squad tomorrow.
The investigation is being overseen by the Professional Standards Command while the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission has launched a separate inquiry.
Superintendent Lisa Hardeman went on TV in the hours after the shooting and said Mr Ewins “took the firearm from his pants and aimed it at police”. Mr Ewins denies pointing the toy gun at police before he was shot and video footage of the incident is unclear.
“Dale also intends to bring defamation proceedings against Superintendent Lisa Hardeman for the comments she made on national TV on the day of the shooting,” Mr Price said. Mr Price declined to comment on how much compensation the couple were seeking.