09 Swinger, Joker or vic­tim? Pair seek­ing dam­ages

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - DAVID HUR­LEY

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.

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