Police have admitted a man they gunned down pointed a stolen air rifle but never fired before they started shooting. And the man's brother says it wasn't loaded.

Five days after beneficiary Shannon Lawson, 38, was shot several times in a caravan at his mother's West Auckland house the question of who fired first has been answered.

"It [air rifle] was definitely presented, but no [was not fired]," said Detective Inspector Mark Gutry, brought in from Counties-Manukau to head an independent police inquiry into the Nikau St shoot-out.

At the scene on Sunday night, Waitemata District Commander Superintendent Bill Searle said "shots were fired at police and police fired back', but the next day retracted saying he was "unsure" Lawson fired any shots.

When eight armed officers arrived at the modest home - in relation to an alleged arson at Lawson's girlfriend house the week before - a police Taser missed its mark.

Mr Searle said Lawson "produced a firearm" and two officers fired several shots, before he was taken to Auckland City Hospital in a serious condition.

He was later transferred to the plastics unit at Middlemore Hospital and was discharged yesterday morning. Mr Gutry said he had two surgical procedures.

Wearing blue hospital pyjamas, arms folded across his chest and with his hand bandaged, Lawson glared out across the Waitakere District Courtroom yesterday from beneath a heavily tattooed forehead.

Moments earlier he had given the fingers to media as Judge David Mather declined an application to photograph him.

Lawson faced charges of burglary, assault of a woman and using a firearm against a police officer and was remanded in custody until next month, to give his lawyer John Cagney time to prepare a bail application. Police say further charges are likely.

Missing the top of three fingers and with a bullet still "lodged in his pelvis", Mr Cagney said Lawson believed he should still be in hospital.

"He is of the view that he was only discharged to be brought to this court," he told the court. Judge Mather said he would note that on his warrant.

Earlier Mr Gutry confirmed Lawson's air rifle was stolen, but refused to comment on whether it was loaded.

However, brother Dale Lawson said: "I don't think it was loaded. There were cartridges in the bag but I don't think he knew that."

Police will continue speaking to witnesses, but all eight officers involved had been interviewed.