Swingers Party Shooting Costs Police Department Over $2 Million

An incident where police in Australia opened fire on a couple that was having sex at a Melbourne nightclub has resulted in the victims being paid over 3 million Australian dollars ($2.03 million).

The Age reported that Victoria police have agreed to pay out the largest settlement in the history of the state for the shooting of Dale Ewins and Zita Sukys in October of 2017. The case was scheduled to go to trial this week but a last-minute negotiation between parties avoided a public hearing.

On July 8, 2017, the Victoria Police's Critical Incident Response Team conducted a raid on the Inflation nightclub during a "Sinners and Saints" party.

Officers approached Ewins and Sukys, who were engaged in a sexual act. They proceeded to stun Ewins three times with a Taser, shoot him twice in the back and stomp on his body while he lay on the ground.

A bullet also passed through Sukys's leg in the fracas.

Dale Ewins' toy gun
The toy gun that was in Dale Ewins' possession when he was shot Victoria Police

The police's case hinged on a plastic toy revolver that Ewins had brought to the event as part of his costume. Their report of the incident claims that Ewins extracted the weapon from beneath a couch cushion and, fearing for their lives, the officers reacted with lethal force within seven seconds.

Justice John Dixon told the court on Monday that the weapon, made of hollow plastic with an obvious seam down the middle, was such an obvious fake that it "would be obvious to a 5-year-old."

In addition, police had been warned before entering the club that Ewins possessed the toy gun. He had presented it to security at the club and made it known it was fake.

In an audio recording from the club, Ewins could be heard repeatedly yelling "It's a fake gun" as they shocked him.

According to ABC, Victoria's Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission conducted an inquiry into the shooting and found the Victoria police did not perform a review of the officers' actions after the raid.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton claimed that an internal investigation backed up the police claim that the shooters acted in self-defense.

The owner of the nightclub was also awarded a settlement in the case.

This is the latest in a series of excessive force missteps by Victoria police and the CIRT in particular. In 2017, a member of the unit tackled Indian student Lovepreet Nehal outside a Sydney restaurant, according to The Age. Mistaking him for a suspect in a van theft, they threw him to the ground at gunpoint, breaking his jaw, and then one officer kicked him in the shoulder as he lay on the ground.

In May of 2019, a CIRT raid on a LGBTQ bookstore in Fitzroy, following an erroneous tip that an armed intruder was inside, resulted in officers assaulting a man named Nik Dimopoulos who lived in an apartment above the store. In the attack, police used enough force to dislocate his shoulder from its socket and break several bones in his arm, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.