British Columbia

Full regimental funeral for Const. John Davidson attracts thousands in Abbotsford, B.C.

Thousands of people attended a celebration of life to commemorate fallen police Const. John Davidson in Abbotsford following a procession that began earlier in the day.

Davidson, who was killed in the line of duty, was honoured on Sunday at memorial service

Pallbearers carry the casket of Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson, who was killed in the line of duty on November 6, into a memorial service in Abbotsford, B.C., on Nov. 19, 2017. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The chief of the Abbotsford, B.C., police department says an oily blackness fell on the city when a shot rang out, killing Const. John Davidson almost two weeks ago.

"When that shot rang out, evil won. There was an oily blackness that fell upon our city. It was awful. I cannot imagine a darker thing to have happen to us," Chief Bob Rich said.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer stands among Vancouver Police officers during a memorial for Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Rich revealed details at a celebration of Davidson's life about what happened on Nov. 6 when the officer confronted a man alleged to have stolen a vehicle from an auto mall two days earlier.

Rich says Davidson, 53, was the first officer on the scene that day following a report of a man firing rounds from a rifle, fatally wounding the officer.

Civilians and officers pack Abbotsford Centre for fallen officer's memorial

4 years ago
About 8,000 people were at the venue to commemorate Const. John Davidson 1:30

The suspect, he said, was later surrounded by five Abbotsford officers who fired on the vehicle, hitting him.

"That man's evil intentions, I totally believe were to kill more of us. There was going to be a rampage in the city of Abbotsford, I don't know who would have fallen," he said.

"But they stopped him at that moment and their lights shone bright at that moment."

Since then, Rich said, there's been an outpouring of support from fellow officers and the public.

Hundreds of RCMP officers from across the country attended Const. John Davidson's celebration of life on Sunday. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Davidson was remembered as a man admired for his dedication to his community and his kindness to those he encountered.

His friend, Abbotsford Sgt. Jason Scott told the service that Davidson had a positive influence on his co-workers and the youth he worked with.

Scott says Davidson was good at what he did and was proud to be a husband, father and police officer.

Before the event began, thousands in the building were silent as eight of Davidson's fellow officers carried his coffin into Abbotsford Centre arena.

The officer's service belt and both his police hats from Abbotsford and Northumbria were placed atop his flag-covered coffin.

Const. John Davidson, who died on Nov. 6, 2017, leaves behind his wife and three adult children. His funeral is today.

About 12,000 people — including 8,000 first responders — attended the procession and full regimental funeral for Davidson on Sunday.

"We want to make sure we do it right for John," said Abbotsford Police Sgt. Judy Bird.

"We just want to make sure that we remember John and who he stood for and make sure we carry on his legacy."

The celebration took place at the Abbotsford Centre. The 8,000 seat venue was at capacity.

"We are overwhelmed with the response. We are grateful for everyone taking the time to come here and honour John," Bird said.

Thousands attend funeral procession for Const. John Davidson

4 years ago
The march preceded the celebration of life for the Abbotsford police officer, who was killed in the line of duty 1:07

A police pipe band, motorcycles and a riderless horse were part of the procession earlier in the day.

First responders, government employees and officers dressed in uniforms of blue and red paraded along the procession route with the hearse carrying Davidson's remains.

The riderless horse, a symbol of a fallen officer, followed the hearse.

Several hundred members of the public lined the procession route in the pouring rain to pay tribute to Davidson.

Barb Hunter said she came to support the police.

"Because we never know when they're going to be laying their life down for us. So I just want to thank them and show my appreciation by being here."

Abbotsford Police Officers walk in formation behind the funeral procession carrying the body of Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson, who was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 6, on their way to a memorial in Abbotsford, B.C. (Ben Nelms/The Canadian Press)

Davidson had served as a police officer for 24 years when he died responding to reports of a stolen vehicle.

A suspect, Alberta resident Oscar Arfmann, 65, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with Davidson's death.

Davidson began his career with the Northumbria police in the United Kingdom in 1993. He moved to British Columbia in 2006.

The veteran officer's partners from Northumbria marched with about 230 members of the Abbotsford Police Department in a procession to a local arena.

Police officers from across Canada and the United States also took part in the procession.

Fellow officers say Davidson was known for his many contributions to the community including getting drunk drivers off the road, working with high school students and raising money for cancer research.

Members of the public say the "fallen hero" was kind and compassionate, even when he was handing out tickets.

Davidson leaves behind a wife and three children.

"We're not used to this level of violence in Canada," Bird said, referring to officers falling in the line of duty. "This was a shock to Abbotsford and our whole nation."

Bird said all the 2,000 blue memorial ribbons created to assist Davidson's family and set up a memorial sold out in two days.

Const. John Davidson, centre left, worked for the Abbotsford Police Department for 11 years before his death. (Abbotsford Police Department)

With files from Farrah Merali, Pierreluc Gagnon and CBC News.