A police officer testified in the first-degree murder trial of a former Saskatchewan Mountie that Bernie Herman texted his wife saying he had shot a man on the night he was arrested.
Mr. Herman is on trial for the 2021 death of 26-year-old Braden Herman. The two are not related.
Braden Herman’s body was found in an isolated area of Little Red River Park on the outskirts of Prince Albert, Sask., that May.
Bernie Herman, who was a 32-year member of the RCMP, was arrested the same day. He has pleaded not guilty.
Const. Richard Wittal told the Prince Albert Court of King’s Bench that he worked in traffic services with Bernie Herman on the same shift. While Const. Wittal wasn’t working on the day of the death, he had been texting his colleague.
That evening, Bernie Herman’s wife and daughter arrived at Const. Wittal’s house. They showed Const. Wittal a text message allegedly from Bernie Herman. Const. Wittal told court the text said: “I shot Braden. It’s over and done with.”
Const. Wittal tried to call Bernie Herman but there was no answer so he notified his staff sergeant.
An agreed statement of facts read into court on Dec. 4 said that Braden Herman was shot with a pistol issued by the RCMP.
It said Bernie Herman was taken into custody at the staff sergeant’s home. He was wearing his RCMP uniform, vest and duty belt.
Court heard how Bernie Herman usually left his uniform and service pistol at the RCMP station. But he left the station wearing the uniform and belt, and was in possession of the gun on the day of the killing.
RCMP Const. Jackson Goodfellow said he was dispatched to his staff sergeant’s home. There was some confusion as to what was going on, but Const. Goodfellow told court he was told “Bernie may have just killed someone.”
Const. Goodfellow said eventually Bernie Herman exited the house, hugged another officer who had responded to the scene and then he was arrested.
Family members say Braden Herman was kind, caring and thoughtful.
“He was a very gentle person, a gentle giant,” his older brother, Brett Herman, said in a recent interview.
“He was a big kid but he would never hurt a fly.”
Brett Herman has said he’s not sure how his brother and the RCMP officer first met each other. Family have said he and the officer grew up in neighbouring northern Saskatchewan communities—Braden Herman was from Clearwater River Dene Nation and Bernie Herman was from La Loche, Sask.
At some point, Braden Herman lived with the officer and his wife. But Braden Herman’s family say the relationship became emotionally and physically abusive, and he tried to stay away from the Mountie.
“He was always trying to avoid Bernie,” Brett Herman said of his younger brother.
Family have said the officer was able to use his position of authority to harass Braden Herman.
Insp. Craig Mushka with the Prince Albert police has said on the day Braden Herman’s body was found, the accused called a co-worker and “made disturbing comments that he had killed someone.”
Police have also said Bernie Herman provided information on where to find the body.
After his arrest, Bernie Herman resigned from the police force.