Braden Herman's family demands 'justice for the heartache' after Mountie charged in his death
Veteran Prince Albert RCMP officer accused of 1st-degree murder in connection with death
Braden Herman's siblings want their brother to be remembered as someone with a kind and loving heart who always found a place in the crowd.
"He was really funny and he was always making jokes. He was just fun to be around," said his half-brother, Brett Herman. "He made me laugh a lot of times, and I'll miss that about him."
The body of the 26-year-old — who was from Clearwater River Dene Nation, which is located about 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon — was found in a wooded area in Prince Albert, Sask., early Tuesday evening.
Bernie Herman, a Prince Albert RCMP officer of 32 years, has been charged with first-degree murder in connection to Braden's death.
While the 53-year-old was off duty at the time of the incident, the Saskatchewan RCMP said in a statement Wednesday evening that "a modification to the member's duty status is currently being processed."
The Prince Albert Police Service continues to investigate the death as a homicide, with oversight expected from an independent observer appointed by the Ministry of Justice.
Bernie made his first appearance in Prince Albert Provincial Court on Thursday morning. The case was adjourned until May 26.
As part of the investigation, police said they have cordoned off a vehicle and a home in the 3300 block of Dent Crescent in Prince Albert, in addition to the wooded area where Braden's body was found.
Police said an autopsy on Braden's body is scheduled for Thursday.
'The guy can rot in hell'
According to Braden's family, despite having the same last name as Bernie, the two weren't related but they knew each other.
Brett said his brother had a "personal relationship" with Bernie — who's also from the same Dene community in northern Saskatchewan — and lived with the RCMP officer and his wife in Prince Albert for a while, before they had a falling out.
When Brett heard the news early Wednesday morning about his brother's death and later that day about Bernie's murder charge in connection, he said it didn't come as a surprise, having heard stories from Braden about the Mountie's "controlling and abusive" behaviour toward him in the past.
"I have no idea what happened. I was just made aware that my brother is no longer with us, and that they had a person in custody — and sure enough, it was [Bernie]," Brett said. "The guy can rot in hell. ... I just hope he gets what he deserves."
"I just want [Bernie] not to walk the streets and to be behind bars as he deserves," added Braden's adoptive sister, Daphanie Herman, in a text message. "I know I will not see my brother again, but I really want justice for the heartache."
'A lot of unanswered questions'
Brett said his brother is leaving behind countless friends and family across northern Saskatchewan and parts of Alberta.
Among the most devastated, Brett said, is his brother's grandmother, Mary Jane Herman, who raised Braden and his twin brother, Blade, from the time they were babies.
Having lost Blade to suicide in 2015, Brett noted, it's even more heartbreaking that her other boy is gone.
"I would just like to see her get some closure and see her happy again," Brett said. "A lot of people are sad and hurt — and left with a lot of unanswered questions."