Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr, surrounded by members of the Abbotsford Police Department, responds to media questions outside of the New Westminster courthouse on Thursday, following the verdict in the trial of Oscar Arfmann. (Vikki Hopes/Abbotsford News)

Police chief on Abbotsford cop killer’s guilty verdict: ‘I don’t know if there’s ever justice’

Mike Serr says decision brings mixed emotions for department and Const. John Davidson’s family

Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr says the guilty verdict in the Oscar Arfmann trial brings mixed emotions for the department and the family of slain officer Const. John Davidson.

Serr said they are grateful that Arfmann – whose name he does not use, instead referring to him as “John’s murderer” – was convicted on Thursday of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Davidson on Nov. 6, 2017.

But he said there is some “heaviness” about the hearing that will occur in February to determine whether Arfmann is “not criminally responsible (NCR) due to a mental disorder.”

“That’s something we were prepared for. This was not unanticipated. It’s certainly hard that we know that we have to go through this process again,” Serr said, speaking outside of the courthouse at the conclusion of the proceedings on Thursday afternoon.

Serr said the trial has been particularly difficult for Davidson’s wife Denise and his three grown children – Drew, Fay and Dina.

They were in court every day of the trial, which ran from late May until Aug. 2, and had to listen to “some incredibly difficult testimony,” as well as witness Arfmann’s ongoing lack of emotion and refusal to acknowledge his guilt, Serr said.

He said he’s not sure if the guilty verdict is “justice” for Davidson and the Abbotsford Police Department (APD).

READ MORE: Judge agrees to hearing on cop killer’s mental state

“I don’t know if there’s ever justice. I’m pissed off. I lost a very good police officer, and the city lost a very good man, and this decision, although we’re very happy that it’s a guilty verdict, nothing will bring John back, nothing will fill that void for his family or for any of us, and that will always weigh heavy.”

The three rows in the courtroom in New Westminster were packed for Thursday’s proceedings with fellow APD officers in uniform, civilian members and officers from other agencies.

Serr said the APD is a “strong and proud” department and they wanted to be there for each other.

He thanked everyone who contributed to the guilty verdict, including all the officers at the scene and involved in the investigation, the first responders, the 911 dispatchers, the witnesses, other police agencies who stepped in, Crown counsel, and the community as a whole.

Serr said the reason he does not mention Arfmann by name is because he wants the focus to be on Davidson.

“I want to remember Const. John Davidson, who died as a hero, who raced in to a very dangerous situation to protect others. John’s murderer ambushed John. He shot John in the back and then, as John laid on the sidewalk, he executed John again, and that’s not the person who I want to remember in this,” he said.

Arfmann is next due back in court on Feb. 3, when the NCR hearing will take place. It has been scheduled until Feb. 28.

His lawyer, Martin Peters, said outside of the courthouse on Thursday that there was a reason that an NCR defence did not come up during the trial.

“Our approach to this case, as directed by our client, was that he didn’t do it … Those were the instructions we received so that’s how we conducted the case,” Peters said.

READ MORE: Const. John Davidson was ‘ambushed’ by shooter, Crown says on first day of trial

After Justice Carol Ross rendered her guilty verdict, Peters filed a motion for Arfmann to have an updated psychological assessment conducted. He said Arfmann has been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

In previous discussions with a psychiatrist, Arfmann was not cooperative, but Peters said he hopes the guilty verdict will result in him opening up.

“Mr. Arfmann, to date, has not been prepared to admit that he committed any offence, and I think that’s what he told the psychiatrist. He said, ‘I didn’t do it,’ ” Peters said.

Peters said that the guilty verdict was a “good decision.”

“I think she (the judge) reviewed the evidence very carefully, and I’m not prepared to be critical at all of the way she approached the evidence and the conclusion that she arrived at,” he said.

Ross agreed to Peters’ motion for a psychological assessment to be completed – by Nov. 29 – and for the subsequent hearing to take place.

An NCR ruling would mean that the judge believes that Arfmann did not have the capacity to appreciate his actions and know right from wrong at the time of the offence.

Individuals who receive such a ruling fall under the mandate of the BC Review Board, which conducts an assessment to determine whether the person should be detained in a hospital, discharged in the community under certain conditions or discharged without conditions.

If the conviction stands, Arfmann receives an automatic life sentence with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Vikki Hopes | Reporter

@VikkiHopes

Send Vikki an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Defence lawyer Martin Peters, with co-counsel Frances Mahon, responds to media questions outside of the New Westminster courthouse on Thursday, following the verdict in the trial of Oscar Arfmann. (Vikki Hopes/Abbotsford News)

Just Posted

Banks need to help people out with credit card interest

Reduce credit card interest rates and reduce them drastically

Underground utility work completed on Chemainus Road Corridor Project

Tendering process to determine a contractor to begin the second phase in mid-June

Void of summer events going to be felt in Chemainus

CBIA cancels Classics Car Show and Canada Day celebrations

Paid sick leave a must going forward

The chickens are coming home to roost, so to speak, on this issue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cowichan RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

Most Read