Dash-cam video shown in court on Monday was taken on Nov. 6, 2017 by a driver as he followed a man whom he had seen holding a gun in an Abbotsford business complex just moments before Const. John Davidson was fatally shot.
The footage was shown as part of the trial for Oscar Arfmann, 67, who is charged with the first-degree murder of Davidson, an 11-year member of the Abbotsford Police Department.
The proceedings, which began May 27, resumed in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster after a two-week break.
Witness Lawrence Seifert testified via video that he was waiting in the drive-thru of the McDonald’s restaurant in a business complex on Mt. Lehman Road at about 11:45 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2017, when he heard two loud bangs.
He thought the sound was a wooden pallet falling over in a nearby Pepsi truck.
But as he drove through the parking lot after receiving his food, Seifert said he saw a man trying to reload a rifle as he stood between a black Mustang and a blue Ford pickup.
Seifert said he drove onto Cardinal Avenue and then went back into the parking lot, as he called 911.
He said he again saw the same man trying to reload the gun, but in a different area of the parking lot.
Seifert said he again left the business complex – this time heading north on Mt. Lehman – and did a U-turn. Just as he was about to head back into the parking lot, he saw a black Mustang – which he said was the same one that the man with the gun had been standing beside – starting to head north.
Seifert followed him, and continued talking to the 911 operator. Both drivers turned onto Blueridge Drive, and the man in the black car did a U-turn and returned to the lights at Mt. Lehman.
Seifert also did a U-turn and continued to follow him. As they both stopped at the light, Seifert was able to relay a description of the suspect and his licence plate to the 911 operator.
He described the man as being old, with long grey hair and wearing glasses, a black leather jacket and a baseball cap.
Seifert testified that he was surprised at how calm the man appeared to be.
“He was driving like he was on a casual day drive in the sunshine … He wasn’t speeding – if anything he was under the speed limit. He signalled, he did everything like anybody should do when they’re driving,” he said.
Seifert followed the Mustang as it turned back into the business complex and parked. Seifert said he went to a different area – beside the blue Ford pickup – because he could hear police sirens and wanted to stay out of the way.
Seifert said he passed an unmarked white police vehicle as he pulled back in. (Earlier evidence presented in court indicated that Davidson was the first to arrive on the scene and was driving an unmarked white truck.)
Seifert did not testify to seeing the driver he had been following or the Mustang once he pulled over in the parking lot nor did he testify to seeing Davidson, 53, get shot.
He said he immediately provided the memory card of his 11-minute dash-cam video to police who arrived on the scene.
The footage was shown in court and, at about the three-minute mark, two bangs can be heard in the background.
As Seifert is leaving the parking lot, a man can be seen holding a gun, and then Seifert calls 911, telling the operator what he just observed at the business complex.
“There’s a guy in the parking lot here with a f—ing rifle, shooting at cars. They shot the windows out of a guy’s pickup,” he says.
Cross examination of Seifert by one of Arfmann’s lawyers focused on inconsistencies between his statement to police the day after the shooting, his 911 call and his testimony in court.
Some of the questions related to when Seifert noticed that the windows in the blue pickup were smashed and his descriptions of the suspect and the gun.
Because Seifert was appearing by video and was not in the courtroom, he was not asked to identify whether Arfmann was the same man whom he had seen with the gun and followed.
The trial resumes on Thursday of this week and is expected to conclude in early August.
EXCERPT OF 911 CALL
This is an excerpt from the 911 call that witness Lawrence Seifert made on Nov. 6, 2017 as he was following a vehicle that he believed was being driven by a man he had seen with a gun at a business complex on Mt. Lehman Road:
SEIFERT: “I’m at McDonald’s by the Abbotsford auto mall. There’s a guy in the parking lot here with a f—ing rifle, shooting at cars … They shot the windows out of a guy’s pickup … I don’t know if it’s pellet gun or a rifle, but he’s there, and I saw it.”
(Seifert indicates that the car is heading north on Mt. Lehman and describes it as a black Mustang with Alberta plates.)
SEIFERT: “He’s an old guy … And he’s driving really, really calmly up the road northbound.”
(The two cars now turn right onto Blueridge Drive, make a U-turn and turn left back onto Mt. Lehman Road.)
911 DISPATCHER: “You’re at a safe distance, right, sir?”
SEIFERT: “Well, I’m in a car. If he stops and pulls a gun out on me, I’m going to run him over. It’s just that simple.”
911: “I don’t want you to follow anymore, OK?”
SEIFERT: “He’s making a left back into the parking lot at McDonald’s. No, I’m going to keep following him. I’m not scared of him.”
911: “… I know that you’re not scared, but we have lots of police coming. We want to sure that you’re at a safe distance so you’re not in the way, OK?”
(Seifert describes both vehicles turning back into the business complex and each parking in different areas. The 911 call ends shortly after the dispatcher gets Seifert’s personal details.)
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