A fleeing driver accused of trying to shoot dead police officers today claimed he was goading police into shooting him dead in a desperate suicide attempt.

Tolu Ma'anaiama, 33, is standing trial for attempting to murder two Christchurch police officers in the city on February 26 this year.

The shootout led to a period where frontline officers were armed.

Ma'anaiama was shot twice in the leg and once in the chest after police returned fire in Eveleyn Couzins Ave in the Richmond area shortly before 7.30pm that day following a pursuit.


Police officers pursuing Ma'anaiama have claimed that he'd aimed a shotgun directly at them and felt that he was trying to kill them.

Today, Ma'anaiama himself gave evidence to claim that he had never wanted to hurt anyone and that he had actually aimed shots down the centre of the road.

Tolu Ma'anaiama, 33, is standing trial at the High Court in Christchurch accused of attempting to murder police officers in an alleged shootout in Christchurch in February. Photo / Kurt Bayer
Tolu Ma'anaiama, 33, is standing trial at the High Court in Christchurch accused of attempting to murder police officers in an alleged shootout in Christchurch in February. Photo / Kurt Bayer

He claimed it was a suicide attempt.

Defence counsel Rupert Glover told the jury: "He shot down the street in the full expectation that the police would shoot back and shoot him and kill him."

Samoan-born Ma'anaiama told of a troubled upbringing and how he had turned to selling methamphetamine to make a living.

At the time of the shooting, he'd been on a meth binge and had been up for five days, he said.

When police caught up with him in Eveleyn Couzins Ave, Ma'anaiama said he didn't want to run anymore.

"It was then I decided I didn't want to be in this world anymore," he said.


Both the Crown and defence have now finished with evidence and they will begin their closing addresses.

Justice Cameron Mander will then give his summing up of the evidence before the jury retires to consider its verdict.

Earlier, police dog handler Constable Kurt Stephenson told how he'd been pursuing a fleeing car when it came to a stop in a Richmond cul-de-sac.

As the driver walked a wide arc with the gun allegedly pointed at Stephenson, he got out of his police car and sought cover behind it, withdrawing his police-issue Glock pistol, racking the slide and chambering a 9mm round from the magazine into the firing chamber.

With the muzzle "pointed directly at me", the police officer said he "immediately feared for the safety of myself and for members of the public in the area".

He yelled as loudly as he could, "Armed police, drop the weapon".

The man did not respond, Stephenson said, and moved behind the vehicle, emerging on the other side, still pointing the shotgun at him.

Stephenson says a shot was fired directly at him, saying he heard the explosion of the gunshot, following by the noise of shotgun pellets being fired in his direction. He said the "distinctive whistle sounds" were like nothing he's ever heard before.

He told the jury he believed the shooter was trying to kill him.

Stephenson fired "a number of rounds" from his Glock back at the gunman but didn't think he hit him.

By then, other police officers had arrived – a total of five police officers in four police vehicles.

As the gunman again aimed the muzzle of his shotgun at Stephenson, the officer fired his Glock at him until he fell down.

Ma'anaiama was arrested at the scene and after receiving first-aid treatment, taken to Christchurch Hospital.

A police examination of the scene found shotgun pellet dents in the grille of Stephenson's police car and a shotgun pellet in its radiator. Further shotgun pellets were found down the length of the street.

Officers also found two shotgun shells at the scene.

A total of 35 shots had been fired by police officers.

A local resident filmed part of the incident on his cellphone. The dramatic footage, featuring multiple loud gunshots and sirens wailing, was twice played to the jury.

The Crown says the clip shows Ma'anaiama taking aim directly at Stephenson and another police officer.

Ma'anaiama faces seven charges, including two of attempted murder, assault with a weapon, two charges of using a firearm against a law enforcement officer, and two alternative charges of using a firearm against a law enforcement officer.


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat.
NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
SAMARITANS – 0800 726 666.