NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. — A judge found a man guilty of first-degree murder Thursday in the death of a police officer who was gunned down moments after stepping out of his vehicle at an outdoor mall in Abbotsford, B.C.
Justice Carol Ross of the B.C. Supreme Court found Oscar Arfmann guilty in the death of Const. John Davidson in November 2017.
The gallery was packed with members of Davidson’s family and dozens of police officers as Ross told the court that the Crown had proven “all the elements of the charge” against Arfmann.
She said there was no reasonable doubt that Arfmann was the man who pulled the trigger, that he knew Davidson was a police officer and that he shot to kill.
“There are simply no other plausible theories or other reasonable possibilities based on logical experience applied to the evidence, or the absence of evidence, and not in speculation,” Ross said.
Arfmann, dressed in a red sweatsuit, sat with his arms crossed and leaned back in his chair as Ross read her reasons for the judgment.
Defence lawyer Martin Peters filed a motion after the verdict seeking further assessment of whether Arfmann is criminally responsible for the death.
“As you have found him guilty, we now raise the issue of insanity,” Peters told the judge.
In reserving her decision in August, Ross advised the Crown and defence that they should be ready to make submissions about the potential role of Arfmann’s mental state during the time of the shooting if she found him guilty.
In closing arguments, the defence said Arfmann had no motive to kill Davidson and that the Crown’s case depended on conflicting witness accounts.
The prosecution said Arfmann ambushed the 53-year-old officer as he got out of his vehicle and shot him twice from behind.
Crown attorney Wendy Stephen told the trial that a man matching Arfmann’s description had stolen a vehicle two days earlier, shot at dealership managers who confronted him, left the area, then returned and killed Davidson to escape arrest.
Ross said that while some elements of the witness testimonies were in conflict, they painted a picture in totality that placed Arfmann at the scene of the shooting, and the allegation was backed up by supporting evidence like dash-cam and surveillance footage.
“I found all of these witnesses to be credible. They were in my view honest,” she said.
Arfmann and Davidson may have been strangers in their personal lives, but the evidence supports the argument that the two were “related” as suspect and responding officer, she said.
While Davidson was in an unmarked police vehicle when he pulled up to a Ford Mustang stolen by Arfmann, he had activated red and blue flashing lights and was wearing a police uniform when Arfmann shot him, Ross said.
“(Arfmann) was standing at close range, three or four feet, when he fired the second shot. This shot was fired when Const. Davidson was lying face down on the ground,” she said.
“He was aware of the probable consequences of his actions.”