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.

 

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

Orca Place residents take time to clean up garbage in Parksville

‘We have to change all these people’s perspectives and outlook on us’

Ravensong Waterdancers bring home provincial awards

Club invited public to watch members perform routine Dec. 15

Parksville and Qualicum Beach looking for firefighters

Those interested can attend regular practice night

Experiment from Ballenas students heads to International Space Station

Entries from 23 countries; Ballenas is one of 11 schools chosen in Canada

Public hearing set for affordable housing development in Parksville

Council passes two bylaws, eyes 130 Shelly Rd. as affordable housing units for families

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

UPDATE: University student dies, another injured in car crash in Nanaimo

Students part of Vancouver Island University’s automotive program

Owner surrenders dogs chained up outside among scrap metal, garbage to BC SPCA

Shepherd-breed dogs were living in ‘deplorable conditions.’

B.C. plane crash victim identified; witnesses describe ‘explosion’

He was a flight instructor, charter pilot and owned an airstrip before leaving Alberta

Most Read