Sask. family 'unsettled' after former Mountie charged with murder granted bail

Brett Herman says he’s filled with confusion after a former RCMP officer charged in his brother’s death has been released from jail.

In May, Prince Albert police charged former RCMP officer Bernie Herman with first-degree murder after Braden Herman, 26, was found dead in a wooded area near Little Red River Park. Bernie has pleaded not guilty.

Last week, he was granted bail following a hearing at Court of Queen’s Bench.

Brett described Bernie’s release as “very unsettling.”

“It’s really tough. This is hard on the family. We’re all trying to stay strong," he said.

Bernie and Braden were not related, but they did know each other. The two are from the same northern Saskatchewan community, according to Brett, and lived together at one point.

Brett said he has a lot of unanswered questions, especially since Bernie “told on himself that he did this.”

Prince Albert police, who are investigating the case, said Bernie called a coworker after the incident and said he killed someone. He agreed to go to the coworker’s house, where he was arrested, and gave police the information needed to find Braden’s body.

“It just doesn’t sit right with me,” said Brett, adding that it’s been difficult following Bernie’s case knowing his brother isn’t alive.

“He didn’t deserve this, so something needs to be done – and fast.”

Brian Pfefferle is a defence lawyer and sessional lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law. He is not representing Bernie in court.

Pfefferle said in Canada, accused persons shouldn’t be held in custody while awaiting trial, unless they meet one of the three reasons why someone should be denied bail. This includes if they’re at risk of not showing up to court, if they’re likely to commit another offence, or if detention is needed in order for the public to remain confident in the justice system.

“If a person doesn’t have a prior criminal record, they’ve got close ties to a community, the police know where they’re going to be and they’re closely monitored, it doesn’t surprise me that someone was released in a situation like this,” he said.

“We’ve got someone who is a higher profile accused person, who’s obviously well known to the police service.”

Pfefferle said that even though someone is charged with a serious offence, they’re presumed innocent and releasable.

Especially during the pandemic, he said, it may take years for a homicide case to proceed to trial.

“Someone could be spending years in custody, truly, years in custody, without having committed any offence and if they’re found not guilty, they would have done all of that time in custody for no reason.”

Bernie Herman’s pre-trial is scheduled to take place from Dec. 13 to 17.