Saskatchewan

Prince Albert RCMP officer charged with murder of 26-year-old man from Clearwater River Dene Nation

Bernie Herman, an RCMP officer in Prince Albert, Sask., has been charged with first degree murder in the death of Braden Herman, a 26-year-old man from Clearwater River Dene Nation found dead Tuesday evening.

Braden Herman was found dead Tuesday evening in wooded area of Prince Albert

Braden Herman, 26, has been identified by friends and family as the man whose body was found in a wooded area of Prince Albert, Sask. Bernie Herman has been charged with murder in his death. The two men are not related but knew each other. Braden Herman came from Clearwater River Dene Nation. Bernie Herman came from the neighbouring community of of La Loche. (Braden Herman/Facebook)

An RCMP officer in Prince Albert, Sask., has been charged with first degree murder in the death of Braden Herman, a 26-year-old man from Clearwater River Dene Nation, 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.

Cpl. Bernie Herman, 53, was charged Wednesday and is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Prince Albert Thursday at 10 a.m. CT.

The Mountie has served on the force for 32 years. He and Braden Herman are not related but knew each other.

Friends had previously confirmed to CBC News that Braden was the man whose body was found in a wooded area in Prince Albert Tuesday night. Family members have also posted messages on social media in memory of him.

Braden, who lived in Prince Albert, is being remembered as a kindhearted person who was devoted to his loved ones.

"He's friendly," said long-time friend Rena Lemaigre. "He's a nice person. He's not the type of guy who would fight."

She said Braden had lived with the RCMP officer and his family in Prince Albert but that the two — who come from the same Dene community in northern Saskatchewan — had a falling out and their relationship had been tense ever since.

Bernie Herman came from La Loche, which neighbours Clearwater River Dene Nation.

Lemaigre said the officer would call Braden repeatedly, so much so that, she said, she considered it "harassment."

Not on duty at time of death

Early Tuesday night, city police officers responded to a wooded area within Prince Albert after a man's body was found, according to a news release issued by the Prince Albert Police Service Wednesday. 

Bernie Herman, who police said was not on duty at the time of the death, was subsequently arrested. 

The Prince Albert Police Service has requested an independent observer be appointed to oversee the investigation.

An autopsy on Braden is scheduled for Thursday in Saskatoon.

'He always lifted me up'

Lemaigre said Braden was raised by his grandmother after his parents died when he was a small child. He graduated from high school in Prince Albert.

Lemaigre, who graduated from a Dene teaching degree program last year, said Braden was one of her best friends.

"Whenever I was trying to give up on school, he was always there, and he always lifted me up," she said. "He always encouraged me to not give up."

RCMP officer Bernie Herman, 53, has served on the force for 32 years. He is scheduled to appear in provincial court in Prince Albert Thursday at 10 a.m. CT. (Bernie Herman/Facebook)

Lemaigre said Braden was often transient, changing jobs and staying with different people in Prince Albert. One of those was the Mountie who is now accused of killing him, she said.

She said he had struggled since his twin brother died from suicide in 2015, and he would often turn to alcohol and drugs.

But Braden had recently gone back to school, Lemaigre said, and she thought he was turning his life around.

"He was starting from scratch and … I had faith in him. I knew he would do it," she said. "He was always trying to lift himself back up."

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