Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson was “ambushed” by Oscar Arfmann and shot twice – the second time after he was already down – when he was the first to arrive on the scene of a shots-fired call in 2017, a Crown lawyer said Monday.
Arfmann, 67 is charged with killing 53-year-0ld Davidson, a 24-year police veteran, and his judge-only trial began in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. The proceedings are scheduled for 39 days.
The trial began with Arfmann – wearing a dark sweatshirt and sweatpants, and thinner than in previous appearances – pleading not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder as many of Davidson’s family members and fellow officers looked on.
Crown lawyer Theresa Iandiorio said about 30 witnesses are expected to testify during the trial, including those who were at the Mt. Lehman Road business complex where the shooting occurred on Nov. 6, 2017 and police officers who investigated.
“The issue at trial is the identification of Oscar Arfmann as the person who shot and killed Const. John Davidson,” Iandiorio said.
She laid out the Crown’s timeline of the shooting, saying the events actually began two days before.
On that day, the manager of the Ford dealership in the Fraser Valley Auto Mall called police to report that a 2013 Ford Mustang had been stolen from the property.
Davidson was the officer who investigated that report, Iandiorio said.
On the day of the shooting at about 11 a.m., the manager and another employee from the dealership spotted the stolen Mustang at the business complex on Mt. Lehman Road across from the auto mall.
Iandiorio said the vehicle’s B.C. licence plates had been swapped with ones from Alberta. Arfmann hails from that province.
The Mustang was parked in a stall in front of the Quiznos restaurant, and one of the auto mall employees blocked it in with his truck, called police and waited for them to arrive, Iandiorio said.
Meanwhile, Iandiorio said that earlier that day Arfmann had stolen a 2016 purple Dodge Challenger from Honda Way in Abbotsford. She said he drove it to the Mt. Lehman complex and parked it at about 11:45 a.m., and then walked over to the Mustang.
He was confronted by the auto mall employees.
“They told Mr. Arfmann that the police had been called and were on their way. Mr. Arfmann told them that they would see what he would do to the cops when they got there – or words to that effect,” Iandiorio said.
She said Arfmann produced a knife and then reached into the passenger seat of the Mustang and pulled out a rifle, shooting twice at the pickup truck that was blocking him in.
Iandiorio said Arfmann then got into the Mustang, did a “multi-point turn,” jumped the curb and sped out of the parking spot.
Iandiorio said Arfmann stopped the Mustang, got out of the vehicle and again aimed his gun at the pickup, but the weapon jammed.
Iandiorio said Arfmann again drove through the parking lot and stopped in a different area. She said he got in and out of the vehicle, and appeared to be trying to deal with the jammed gun.
He eventually got back in the Mustang and drove out of the complex, heading north on Mt. Lehman Road before doing a U-turn.
On the way back, he passed Davidson, who was driving an unmarked white truck and followed Arfmann as he headed back into the business complex.
Iandiorio said Davidson had activated the red-and-blue police lights on his vehicle and was in full uniform.
Davidson immediately stopped his truck.
“Within moments of getting out of his police vehicle, Const. Davidson was ambushed by the accused … Oscar Arfmann shot Const. Davidson from behind. Const. Davidson fell face down on the ground. He did not move,” Iandiorio said.
“Oscar Arfmann then stood over Const. Davidson, who was face down and motionless, and shot Const. Davidson a second time.”
Arfmann then sped south onto Mt. Lehman Road and was pursued by several police vehicles, which rammed him and shot at him. Iandiorio said when he was arrested, items found in the Mustang included a rifle on the passenger seat, ammunition for the gun, several knives and the key for the Challenger.
While Arfmann was being arrested, Iandiorio said “substantial efforts” were underway by people who came to Davidson’s rescue to try to save his life, but he was pronounced dead at about 1 p.m.
Iandiorio said evidence that will be produced during the trial includes dashcam video, surveillance video from businesses in the complex, and cartridge cases at the scene that matched the rifle that Arfmann had in his possession.
She said a bullet that was found in the wall of a business at the scene is believed to be from the first shot fired at Davidson.
The first witness to testify, Abbotsford Police Const. Ken Lewko, said he and another officer were investigating a break-and-enter when they heard a radio transmission about a stolen vehicle and decided to head to the scene.
“As we approached the scene, the radio transmissions on the police radio became chaotic, and we understood that something serious was going on. However, we did not know the extent of what had been happening,” he said.
The two officers had come upon the takedown scene, and Arfmann was in custody.
Lewko’s testimony on Monday afternoon was to include details about the 89 pages of photos – two per page – that he had taken and catalogued as part of the investigation.