A St. John's court heard two very different stories on Wednesday about how a police operation to catch people breaking into cars in a university parking lot ended up in a shootout last winter.

Justin Chipman faces several charges including assaulting police with a vehicle. Chipman was grazed by a bullet when police officers fired at him on February 18 this year.

Two baited cars had been set in the parking lot outside the university field house as part of Operation Hoodwink. Chipman broke into one of those cars, taking items such as a laptop, before returning to the SUV he was driving.

Constable Chris Harnum, one of the officers on the stakeout testified today that when he approached Chipman and told him to get out of the SUV, Chipman laughed and sped away, before getting stuck in a snowbank.

Officers tried to break the window and arrest Chipman, but he managed to get free of the snowbank.

Harnum said that the officer who fired did so because ​Chipman swerved towards another officer.

However, a witness who was arriving at the field house to take his son to soccer practice that night told the court a different story.

According to Hugo McCarthy, he saw a car driving like a maniac when he arrived there, but it turned out to be the undercover police vehicle, not the one Chipman was driving.

McCarthy told the court he believed there was no need for a car chase in that parking lot.

"I didn't think this is how they had to apprehend this man," he said.

Chipman's defence lawyer is arguing police used excessive force in trying to arrest Chipman.

The officer who fired his gun is expected to testify Thursday.