Police victim ruled suicide case

The death of a disabled gunman shot by police in Christchurch has been ruled a suicide.

Shayne Richard Sime, 42, was shot dead by police on June 28, 2009, after opening fire from his Wadhurst Place home in Burnside about 8pm.

In findings released yesterday, Coroner Peter Ryan said a neighbour was hit by shotgun pellets but not seriously injured.

At 10.30pm Sime, confined to a wheelchair because of a spinal disease, moved onto the front deck of his house, firing at armed police and wounding one in the face.

Police then opened fire, hitting Sime five times and killing him instantly.

Judge Ryan said it was his view that Sime decided during the standoff to provoke police to shoot him.

Sime indicated to the police negotiator that there was "no going back", the coroner said.

The negotiator asked, "So there's nothing you want to live for?", to which Sime responded, "No".

Shortly after, Sime went out his front door and fired at police, "thus provoking AOS [armed offenders squad] members to return fire".

The coroner said he did not believe Sime set out to be shot by police, but became "overwhelmed" by the events.

"Shayne realised he only had two choices – surrender and face a prison sentence or commit suicide," he said.

Sime told the negotiator that going back to prison was not an option.

"Shayne had the option of ending his life by his own hand, but for reasons known only to him he did not exercise this option," the coroner said.

Earlier in the evening, Sime sent a text message to his mother, saying: "Prob get shot".

There was no evidence indicating why Sime began his shooting spree, the coroner said.

He had been drinking with a neighbour at his home, and following a discussion about firearms, Sime fired his .308 calibre rifle at a street light.

The neighbour left and Sime began firing the rifle and a shotgun in the neighbourhood.

Police recorded that more than 100 rounds were fired during the evening.

Judge Ryan said that Sime had also suffered a head injury in 1990 after being struck with a billiard cue.

The injury culminated in a brain haemorrhage which had affected him since.

"Despite regular exercise, the prognosis for his condition was poor with the level of his disability increasing over time," the coroner said.

The coroner permitted the release of details of Sime's suicide, finding that it was in the public interest "because this death occurred at the hands of police while carrying out their duties".

The names of the four police officers who fired shots were suppressed.

An Independent Police Conduct Authority report cleared police of wrongdoing, but questioned why Sime was given a firearms licence.

The Press