May 20th, 2024

Crown prosecutor seeks life sentence for former Saskatchewan Mountie who killed lover

By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press on April 25, 2024.

Former RCMP officer Bernie Herman leaves the Court of King's Bench in custody after being convinced of manslaughter in Prince Albert, Sask. on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – Family members of a Saskatchewan man who was shot by his lover told court they will never understand why he was killed by the former Mountie.

Bernie Herman, 55, was convicted in January of manslaughter in the death of 26-year-old Braden Herman. The two men are not related.

Braden Herman’s naked body was found in 2021 in a park on the outskirts of Prince Albert. Bernie Herman testified that he fired the gun that killed Braden Herman but said he was provoked into a split-second action.

“Why did this have to happen?” Mary Jane Herman asked in a victim impact statement read into court during a sentencing hearing at Court of King’s Bench in Prince Albert Thursday.

The Crown is asking for a sentence as long as life in prison while the defence is arguing for a term of four to six years.

Justice Gary Meschishnick reserved his decision until June 18.

Mary Jane Herman raised Braden Herman and his twin brother in the Clearwater River Dene Nation near La Loche, Sask. Braden Herman’s mother died when the boys were young and his twin brother died by suicide in 2015.

Prosecutor Jennifer Schmidt told court that Braden Herman was vulnerable and unhoused when he met the Mountie on Facebook in 2018.

“The reality that Braden Herman lived is not the reality that Bernie Herman lived,” Schmidt said.

Court has heard the Mountie invited the younger man to move into the officer’s family home soon after they met. The relationship became sexual and began to affect the Mountie’s marriage.

The officer’s wife kicked Braden Herman out of the home in 2019, but the two men continued to meet up for sex.

Schmidt argued that Bernie Herman came from a place of privilege in the relationship with the younger man, having a long career with the RCMP, a family and a home.

In asking for the life sentence, she urged the judge to consider how the killing was linked to intimate partner violence.

Defence lawyer Darren Kraushaar said the Mountie also came from humble beginnings in the same area of northern Saskatchewan as the younger man and worked hard to overcome adversity.

Kraushaar told the sentencing hearing that the Mountie faced violence and blackmail from Braden Herman.

“This is a tragic case, there’s no doubt about that,” Kraushaar said.

The officer’s lawyers argued the shooting was in self-defence, but prosecutors said the Mountie lured his lover to the isolated area to kill him.

Bernie Herman had been charged with first-degree murder, but Meschishnick said in his decision that the Crown had not proven the officer was not provoked.

Bernie Herman gave a brief apology in court during the sentencing hearing.

At the trial in December, court heard that Bernie Herman was arguing with his wife about Braden Herman leading up to the shooting.

On May 11, 2021, Bernie Herman, wearing his uniform and carrying his RCMP-issued weapon, picked up Braden Herman and drove to the park.

The Mountie testified that Braden Herman, who was naked, grabbed the officer by the face then walked to the back of the officer’s truck and bent down to grab an object.

Bernie Herman said he didn’t remember what happened next, but his gun went off.

Meschishnick said he didn’t believe the Mountie had memory gaps or felt threatened. But the judge said he had a reasonable doubt “that the Crown has proven that (the officer) was not provoked into acting as he did.”

Diane Herman, another family member of Braden Herman, said in a victim impact statement read into court that the younger man was a joy to be around. She said she still cries thinking about Braden Herman and all he is missing out on in life.

“Bernie took Braden away from us.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 25, 2024.

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