PRINCE ALBERT –
A former RCMP officer has been found guilty of the lesser offence of manslaughter in the shooting death of his lover.
Bernie Herman, 55, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting death of Braden Herman. The two were not related.
In May 2021, the 26-year-old’s naked body was found in a park on the outskirts of Prince Albert, Sask. Braden had a fatal gunshot wound to his chest.
Herman was in uniform at the time of the killing. Braden was killed by Herman’s RCMP service weapon — according to a statement of facts, introduced during the trial.
As the judge read his decision, members of the gallery gasped.
“This is not justice,” June Hanson, a friend of Braden’s, told reporters after the ruling.
June Hanson is shown outside of court on Jan. 25, 2024. (Laura Woodward/CTV News)
The Crown argued the RCMP officer deliberately lured Braden to the area to kill him, but Herman’s lawyer claimed it was an act of self-defence.
Justice Gary Meschishnick said he was not convinced Herman acted in self-defence.
“I do not believe the accused’s testimony that he felt threatened by the victim and that he was acting to protect himself,” Meschishnick said in his ruling at Court of King’s Bench on Thursday.
But Meschishnick said he had reasonable doubt about whether Herman could have been provoked.
A killing must be planned and deliberate for a first-degree murder conviction.
For second-degree murder, a killing must be deliberate but occurs without planning.
“I feel it was premeditated. It was unlikely for Bernie to leave with his gun. Why did he leave that day with his gun? Why did he pick up Braden if he was so afraid?” Hanson said.
Court heard the two men met on Facebook in 2018, and shortly after, Braden moved into the officer’s family home — where the relationship became sexual.
Herman testified that the sex wasn’t always consensual, and the younger man could get violent.
Meschishnick said even if Herman sensed a threat of harm, “he did not act reasonably in the circumstances, in using a firearm.”
The judge said while Herman may have felt “trapped in a relationship by threats, assaults, the fear of being exposed and extortion,” he did not end the relationship.
Lawyers are scheduled to make sentencing arguments in April.