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Judge finds Saskatchewan Mountie who shot lover guilty of manslaughter

January 25, 2024  By The Canadian Press

Jan. 25, 2024, Prince Albert, Sask. – Family and friends of a Saskatchewan man who was shot to death by his lover gasped and cried after a judge found the Mountie guilty of manslaughter.

Bernie Herman, 55, had pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of 26-year-old Braden Herman. The two men are not related.

Court of King’s Bench Justice Gary Meschishnick said in his decision Thursday that he didn’t believe the officer was acting in self-defence or that he had no memory of shooting the gun.

But Meschishnick said the Crown had not proven the officer was not provoked.


“We feel that it’s very unfair,” said Rochelle Herman, who was friends with Braden Herman.

Family and friends wore buttons bearing the young man’s face. June Hanson said Braden Herman didn’t get a voice in the December trial and deserved justice.

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 the younger man but lawyers disagreed on whether it was planned.

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

Family have said Braden Herman was a gentle giant. His early years were unstable and difficult but he was adopted to a close family member and mostly raised in the Clearwater River Dene Nation near La Loche, Sask.

His twin brother died by suicide in 2015 and that deeply affected him, family have said.

The trial in December heard Braden Herman and the officer met on Facebook in about 2018. Soon after, the Mountie invited the younger man to move into the officer’s family home.

The relationship became sexual and the Mountie began sleeping in the basement bedroom with Braden Herman.

Bernie Herman’s daughter described the men’s relationship as weird. She told court they’d hold hands and sit closely together on the couch.

The relationship had an impact on the Mountie’s marriage. The officer’s wife, Janice Herman, kicked the younger man out of the home in 2019, but the two men continued to have sex.

Bernie Herman told the trial the sex wasn’t always consensual. The officer said he was afraid because the young man would get violent.

Prosecutors said Bernie Herman’s testimony wasn’t credible, as the officer continued to seek out the younger man.

Messages shown in court suggest there was love, affection and desire between the two men, but there was also frustration. Court saw messages where Braden Herman told the Mountie to be more open and accepting of himself.

As the men’s relationship continued, it deepened fractures in the Mountie’s marriage. Messages between Janice Herman and her husband show years of conflict and anger.

“When you were having the time of your life in our basement, I was upstairs crying,” she said in a message two weeks before the killing.

The Mountie was at an RCMP all-terrain vehicle training course on May 11, 2021 — the day of the killing — but called Braden Herman 59 times.

Later that day, wearing his uniform, duty belt and RCMP-issued weapon, Bernie Herman picked up the younger man. They got coffee and the officer performed a sexual act on Braden Herman in a Dairy Queen drive-thru.

Then they drove to the isolated area and the Mountie testified Braden Herman grabbed him by the face.

Bernie Herman said the younger man, who was naked, walked to the back of the passenger side of the truck and bent down to grab an object.

The Mountie testified he doesn’t remember what happened next, but his gun went off.

The judge wrote in his decision that he doesn’t believe Bernie Herman’s testimony that he has memory gaps, that he felt threatened or that he had no intent to cause the death of the younger man.

But the judge said he has a reasonable doubt “that the Crown has proven that he was not provoked into acting as he did.”

Meschishnick wrote that Bernie Herman was feeling trapped in an abusive relationship that was also causing his wife to drink. The judge wrote in those circumstances, the threat of a possible assault could make an ordinary person lose “the power of self control.”

Bernie Herman sent a text to his wife soon after the killing, saying: “Just so you know your life has changed from here on. I just shot and killed him.”

Friends said they wanted a first-degree murder verdict, adding Braden Herman wasn’t violent and Bernie Herman’s excuses didn’t add up.

“Why did (Bernie Herman) leave that day with his gun. Why did he pick up (Braden Herman) if he was so afraid,” Hanson said.

A killing must have been planned and deliberate for a first-degree murder conviction.

Bernie Herman, who had been free on bail, was put in custody following the verdict. He will be sentenced at a later date.

“At least he’s in custody now. He’s not gallivanting all over the city like nothing happened, (like) he didn’t take a life,” Hanson said.

“Bernie lived his life. Braden didn’t. Braden just started his life.”

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