Thousands pay their respects at Const. John Davidson's funeral
Published Sunday, November 19, 2017 1:16PM PST
Last Updated Monday, November 20, 2017 8:21AM PST
Thousands lined the streets in Abbotsford to watch Const. John Davidson's funeral procession on Sunday, which included military-style tributes to honour the police officer who was killed in the line of duty earlier this month.
Abbotsford police estimate between 7,000 and 7,500 first responders came from all over the world to join the funeral procession which marched down McCallum Road and Kind Road before arriving at the Abbotsford Centre for the funeral service. An estimated 10,000 people came out in total.
"We all feel the effects when we lose a brother," said Sgt. Judy Bird with the Abbotsford Police Department. "He would have been here side by side marching with us."
Davidson was killed in a shootout in Abbotsford on Nov. 6. He, along with other officers, was responding to a man who had allegedly stepped out of a stolen vehicle with a gun and shot at members of the public. Oscar Arfmann, 65, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
Davidson left behind his wife Denise and three adult children Drew, Dina and Fay.
His children took the stage together at his memorial dressed in green Davidson tartan.
"Anyone who helped him on the scene, I want to say thank you from all of us and forgive yourself for not being able to change his fate," said Dina.
"We always knew that he loved his family fiercely… and it's agonizing to picture a future without his guidance and support," said Fay.
Davidson's own siblings also came from Scotland for the funeral.
"We are so touched by all the tributes that have been made to John," his brother said. "We'd rather have him back than hailed a hero."
A procession of the highest honour
Vancouver police officers led the procession on motorcycles and were followed by RCMP officers in their red serge, the entire Abbotsford Police Department as well as officers from the Northumbria Police in the U.K. where Davidson started his career.
The New Westminster police took over responding to calls in Abbotsford for the day to allow the entire APD to attend the memorial.
Davidson's casket was carried in a silver hearse that was accompanied by a military-style riderless charger—a muscular black horse with riding boots turned backwards in the stirrups to symbolize a fallen officer.
The community hero is being remembered as a great friend, a family man and an incredible athlete. He recently participated in the Cops for Cancer ride and his comrades walked his bicycle in the procession.
"He was a very passionate man. He was a teammate. He loved his family," said Davidson's friend Rup Kirk.
Kirk said he came not only for Davidson but also to honour other emergency responders.
"Every single day they put on their uniform… and put themselves in the line of fire," he said. "They keep us safe."
Const. Davidson remembered at funeral service
Davidson's funeral service began just after 1 p.m. at the Abbotsford Centre. Sgt. Jason Scott opened the service reflecting on his memories of Davidson.
"Behind the uniform he was a man that people admired," Scott said. "John may not have described himself as wise, but he underestimated the significance of his natural sincerity."
In 2006, Davidson moved his family from the U.K. to B.C. because he loved the beauty of the province and the outdoor lifestyle it provided, Scott said.
Scott addressed Davidson's family directly, saying "it's not fair… He was proud to be a father. Proud to be a husband. And proud to be a police officer."
Then APD Chief Bob Rich took the microphone and talked about the day Davidson died.
He described how Davidson's car was the first in the mall parking lot with the stolen vehicle driven by a gun-wielding man. The man shot at Davidson, and Davidson fell.
"When that shot rang out, blackness fell on a sunny day in Abbotsford," Rich said. "When that shot rang out, evil won."
But Rich said he was convinced that good also returned to the community that day because of the incredible efforts to help Davidson by both trained medics and an auxillary firefighter who rushed to the scene and was the first to provide first aid.
"Their lights shone," Rich said. "We know if he could've been saved he would've been saved."
He went on to describe the various ways Davidson left an impact on his community, from creating videos about drug awareness for high school kids to raising money for charities.
"John is my hero. I will never forget what he did," said Rich.
He said the way to continue honouring Davidson is to take care of his family and continue keeping the community safe.
Davidson's policing partner Const. Ranae Williams also addressed the crowd. She gave an emotional address, and it was clear the two shared a strong bond and she recounted stories of the daily coffees they'd share before going out on traffic patrol.
"It is my profound honour and privilege to call you my partner, my friend and my hero," she said.
The ceremony closed with musical tributes "Last Post" on the trumpet and "Flowers of the Forest" on bagpipes before the Canadian flag draped over Davidson's casket was removed and presented to the Davidson family. Finally, honourary pallbearers carried his casket out of the arena and Sgt. Scott asked that service members line the street as it left in the hearse.