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Former Saskatchewan Mountie sentenced to 11 years for shooting death of lover

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — A former Mountie convicted of killing his former lover in a park was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in prison.
Former RCMP officer Bernie Herman exits the Court of King’s Bench in Prince Albert, Sask., Thursday, April 25, 2024. A judge is expected to give his sentencing decision today for a former Saskatchewan Mountie who shot and killed his lover in a park. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — A former Mountie convicted of killing his former lover in a park was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in prison.

"In one sense, this case is as near to murder as it can get, but on the other it was also near to self-defence,” Justice Gary Meschishnick said in his sentencing decision for Bernie Herman.

The judge said Bernie Herman was scared his romantic relationship with Braden Herman would be exposed and left his "moral compass in his pocket," resulting in the needless death.

“This offender's conduct ended up both exposing the nature of the relationship and tragically ending it,” said Meschishnick.

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

The Crown had asked the judge to impose a life sentence, while the defence argued for a term of four to six years.

Braden Herman’s naked body was found in 2021 in the park on the outskirts of Prince Albert, northeast of Saskatoon.

Court heard he was vulnerable and unhoused when he met the Mountie on Facebook in 2018.

Soon after, Bernie Herman invited the younger man to move into the officer's family home. Their 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.

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

The Mountie testified that at the park 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.

The Mountie was charged with first-degree murder but the judge convicted him of manslaughter, ruling the Crown had not proven Bernie Herman planned the killing.

The defence had argued the officer faced violence and blackmail from Braden Herman.

In his sentencing decision, Meschishnick, upon urging from Crown prosecutors, agreed there was "the element of intimate partner violence to consider."

He also noted the officer's actions fomented an environment for further violence and, for that reason, required a longer sentence.

But the judge said the officer had expressed sincere remorse, is a low risk to reoffend and has the support of family.

Prosecutor Jennifer Schmidt said Braden Herman's family went through the court process with resilience and strength.

“Regardless of the results today, they go forward now with a lifetime of grief because of Bernie Herman's actions," Schmidt said in an interview.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2024.

— By Brittany Hobson in Winnipeg

The Canadian Press