The family of slain Abbotsford Police officer Const. John Davidson read their victim-impact statements in court on Monday morning, detailing the devastating effects that his death has had on them.
Davidson’s wife Denise and three grown children – Drew, Dina and Fay – stood together in the witness stand as they each tearfully spoke of finding out about the tragic events of Nov. 6, 2017, and the impact it has had on them since.
On that day, Davidson was shot twice from behind by Oscar Arfmann when he was the first to respond to reports of shots being fired at a business complex on Mt. Lehman Road.
Arfmann was convicted of first-degree murder in October, and will now serve a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years, starting from the date he was brought into custody.
At his sentencing hearing on Monday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, Denise said she was at work on the day her husband was killed, and was summoned by her manager to a meeting room.
There, two police officers informed her what had happened.
“Then my world fell apart. I spent the next two weeks unable to breathe properly,” she said.
Denise said, over the next while, she had to put on her clothes in stages, pausing to lie down in between.
One day when she was out for a walk, she sat down in the middle of the road because she was out of energy.
Denise said the first thought she has every morning is of her husband falling face-first to the ground.
“I can’t help but imagine the intense pain of a bullet ricocheting through his chest, desperately hoping that he didn’t remain conscious long enough to know he had been shot,” she said.
She said she returned to work within a few months to keep busy, but complete strangers would come up to her and hug her. She left after Arfmann’s face appeared on the TV in the lunchroom, and everyone turned to look at her.
Denise said the family’s grief has been compounded by the public attention brought to her husband’s death and the media coverage of Arfmann’s trial.
She said the family has been the “recipients of incredible support, but also victims of some people’s morbid fascination.”
On one of the first days of the trial, she said she ran from the courtroom and fell to the ground outside, sobbing.
“Attending the trial itself is incredibly difficult, but it is the last thing we can do for John,” she said.
Denise said she was grateful that justice has been served and that Arfmann was convicted of the crime for which he has refused to admit any guilt.
“It won’t in any way make up for John’s pointless loss of life, but any less would have been devastating.”
Davidson’s son Drew spoke of his dad’s “vibrant ferocity” for life and said he still can’t imagine life without him.
“His passion for everything he did was unmatched, and his natural sense of right and wrong was the absolute bedrock of a family.”
He said he did not disagree with descriptions of his dad as a “hero” and said his dad was a “mentor, role model, a true friend and inspiration and a prime example of what it means to be an individual.”
Daughter Dina said reminders of her dad come out of nowhere, such as when she hears a song on the radio, and this makes her feel like she has been in a “head-on collision.”
She described her dad as a “feisty, funny, adventurous, stern, moral, opinionated, charismatic, fair, logical, genuine person” and the “provider of fun on family outings.”
“Oscar Arfmann is fully responsible for taking our future away from us, and I will never forgive him for that,” Dina said.
“It is so hard to live in a world where Oscar Arfmann exists, and my dad does not.”
Daughter Fay, who was 19 when her dad died, said she is furious that he will not get to know who she will become and that he’s no longer around to hug her and tell her he’s proud.
“The impact of this killing is immeasurable. Oscar Arfmann’s actions on Nov. 6, 2017 broke our family into pieces, and those two bullets created a void that can and will never be filled,” she said.
Victim-impact statements from Davidson’s three siblings were also read in court.
Speaking outside of the courthouse, Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr read a statement on behalf of the Davidson family.
“Based on the hard evidence, the judge has put Oscar Arfmann behind bars for life for murdering a wonderful husband and father. This won’t alleviate our struggles in the future, but anything less would have been unjust and an insult to John’s memory,” he read.
Serr thanked all the members of the APD and other police agencies who were involved in supporting the department throughout the investigation and trial.
“We’re a very tough, resilient and proud police department, but this will forever be with us – it’s a part of our history – and we will honour John as we move forward,” he said.