Murder-trial witness recalls chaos and gunfire at Abbotsford strip mall
'The man that confronted us and shot the gun in our direction is sitting in the prisoner's box,' witness says
As Oscar Arfmann sat with arms crossed in the prisoner's box, a judge allowed a witness to walk across the courtroom Thursday to get a better look at the man accused of fatally shooting an Abbotsford police officer.
Witness Michael McDonald described a scene of chaos and gunfire in the parking lot of an Abbotsford strip mall on Nov. 6, 2017.
The president of MSA Ford Sales across the street says he was there because a black Mustang stolen days earlier from the dealership appeared to be parked out front of a Quiznos.
When he went to check out the car with other staff members, a man "fumbling" with a knife confronted him on the sidewalk, he said.
The man then pulled a rifle out of the Mustang, McDonald said. He ran behind a vehicle for cover and said he heard two gunshots.
When asked whether the man involved in this confrontation was in the room, McDonald said he was struggling to see across the large court room. Justice Carol Ross allowed him to walk across the courtroom, closer to Arfmann.
"The man that confronted us and shot the gun in our direction is sitting in the prisoner's box with the black shirt," McDonald said when he returned to the stand.
Key issue is identification
Arfmann is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 6, 2017 shooting of Const. John Davidson. The 66-year-old has pleaded not guilty. His trial began this week in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.
The key issue in the trial will be identification, according to Crown prosecutor Theresa landiorio; whether the Crown can prove conclusively that it was Arfmann who fired the gun that killed Davidson.
For the past two days, several witnesses have told the court more about what they saw in the minutes leading up to the shooting.
McDonald said he took pictures of the man with the rifle before running to a nearby restaurant. He then heard more gunshots.
Police corralled the witnesses inside the restaurant and they were told not to talk to each other, McDonald said.
Under cross examination, defence lawyer Martin Peters questioned McDonald's recollection of the events. He mentioned McDonald's statement to police after the incident, in which he said he "can't say for sure" whether the man who stole the Mustang was the same one who shot at him.
McDonald said the traumatic nature of the events could have had an impact on his memory.
"It was an exhausting week," he said.
In her opening remarks on Monday, Crown prosecutor Theresa Iandiorio laid out a timeline of the events that ended with Davidson lying facedown in an Abbotsford parking lot, shot twice from behind.
Arfmann told witnesses they would "see what he would do to the cops" if they were called, court heard Monday in Iandiorio's opening statement.
Const. Davidson was 53 years old when he was killed. He was a member of the Abbotsford Police Department for 11 years.
The Crown is expected to call about 30 witnesses during the course of the trial, which is scheduled for eight weeks.
Along with a uniformed member of the police department, Davidson's family has been sitting in the front row of the courtroom for the first week of the trial.
More witnesses are expected to testify on Friday.
With files from Bethany Lindsay