A street artist has recounted the harrowing experience of being dragged 700 metres down a busy Yarraville road by a car driven by a “vigilante”.
Yarraville’s Mik Shida, 27, said he and two friends had just finished an unapproved painting on the Yarraville Oval tennis courts on the corner of Williamstown Road and Anderson Street when they drove off in their car.
The Yarraville artist told Star Weekly a man was aggressively tailgating their car as they left the scene, despite making multiple U-turns to evade him.
Shida said they were made anxious by being followed, so stopped and confronted the man at the corner of Somerville Road and Gamon Street.
He said he leant in to the car to confront the driver, at which point the driver grabbed his arm and accelerated, dragging him for 700 meters along Somerville Road to Hyde Street at speeds of at least 60km/hr as he pleaded for the driver to stop.
As the car gained speed Shida did everything he could to stop his legs from falling under the wheels, as the friction from the road tore through his shoes.
“Half way through the drag, my mind went to the fact that I was going to die,” he said.
“When I first woke up afterwards I was just ecstatically happy to be alive.”
He said the man only stopped driving once another driver overtook him and forced him from the road, a claim disputed by the Jaguar driver, Marcus Bartlett.
Shida and Mr Bartlett are maintaining starkly divergent versions of the event that hospitalised Shida.
Mr Bartlett said he was driving home from his daughter’s house along Williamstown Road when he saw three people on the tennis court looking “a bit suss”.
“Next minute the cans come out and they’re spraying and whatever. I carried on driving and I thought you know what, I’m sick of graffiti everywhere and no one seems to do anything so I did a U-ey, came back,” he told 3AW.
Mr Bartlett said the trio were getting into their car, so he pulled up behind them and took a photo of their number plate before following them and calling triple-0.
“This wasn’t an LA car chase, this was a 30km/hr plodding through the suburbs,” he said.
Mr Bartlett said Shida approached his car and lunged in.
“Then I started driving off, thinking if I start moving he can’t keep up and he’s going to drop off.”
Mr Bartlett said he thought Shida was going for his phone or wallet or keys from the passenger seat.
“It was like the most frantic 30 seconds of my life.
“Then obviously I realised holy shit, we’re going a bit quick here, so I slowed the speed down to the point where I stopped the car. He dropped off and then I just pulled over.”
Mr Bartlett disputed Shida’s claim that another car had to pull in front of him to stop him driving.
“As far as I’m concerned I’m the victim here. A guy said he was going to report me to police, this was the Wally in the Greek taxi, the Benz, and I’m going mate I’m on the phone to the police now right, it’s all under control.
“My main priority was to keep the phone… he can’t have my keys, wallet or my phone cause I’ll be buggered without it.”
A recording of the incident reveals Mr Bartlett asking Shida to get out of his car and to let go, before an increasingly frantic Shida tells him he can’t.
“Stop stop, you’re going to kill me,” Shida says, while Mr Bartlett is telling him to let his phone go.
Shida’s partner Zheani Sparkes said she was horrified to see him carried away by the Jaguar.
She ran on foot in pursuit of the car, losing sight as it crossed over the railway line and fully expecting the worst.
“I was left in shock, I ran after them and when I got there he was on the nature strip.”
Ms Sparkes praised the support of those who came to Shida’s aid with water and support as he lay battered from the incident.
She said Shida had no choice but to approach the driver after he had followed them and left them feeling “incredibly intimidated.”
“There was a sense of aggression and hatred behind his pursuit.”
Ms Sparkes said there were a number of inconsistencies in Mr Bartlett’s account, starting with the suggestion he had seen them with spray cans.
Shida said Mr Bartlett appeared to have a misconception about who he was and why he was confronting the driver.
Both Ms Sparkes and Shida raised concerns about the adequacy of the police investigation before they went public about the incident.
They are calling for any witnesses or anyone who may have footage of the event to come forward.
Victoria Police spokeswoman Hannah Rowlands said police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Police say the driver allegedly panicked and drove about 200 metres with Shida half in the vehicle, a distance disputed by Shida who said it was 700 metres.
Ms Rowlands said police were called to the scene and have spoken to the parties involved. The investigation is ongoing.
Maribyrnong Council director of infrastructure services Sunil Bhalla said the council strongly supports street art when it is carried out with permission.
“In this instance, the artist did not gain permission before painting on Council property,” he said.
“Our normal process would be to seek permission from council, and agree on a design, before proceeding.
“Any works that have not been approved are normally removed.”