‘I will always love him’

Brother of murder victim speaks out after accused's first court appearance

Brett Herman stands outside of Prince Albert Provincial court on May 13, 2021. Brett's brother, Braden Herman, was identified as the victim of a suspected homicide. Bernie Herman (no relation), a 32-year member of the RCMP, has been charged with First Degree Murder. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

Braden Herman enjoyed the outdoors, was a good and bright kid and loved his nephew like his own son.

That’s according to his brother, Brett, who learned at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday that his younger brother had died.

The body of Herman, 26, was found in a wooded area in Prince Albert Tuesday, police said. 53-year-old Corporal Bernie Herman, a 32-year member of the RCMP who worked in the traffic services unit, has been charged with first-degree murder in Braden’s death.

Braden and Bernie knew each other but were not related, police say. In addition to the wooded area, police also secured a vehicle and a home on Dent Crescent in connection with the investigation.

Family said Braden once stayed with Bernie at that house on Dent Crescent.

Bernie made his first court appearance at Prince Albert provincial court Thursday morning. Dressed in jeans and a white short-sleeved shirt, he didn’t say anything during his brief appearance.

The courtroom was full. Brett sat in the seat with the clearest view of the prisoner’s box.

He declined to comment on many aspects of the case, as it’s early in the court process.

He did say he wanted to see the face of the man who’s accused of killing his brother.

“He didn’t want to look me in the face,” Brett said of Bernie. “That says a lot about his character.”

Herald file photo. RCMP Cpl. Bernie Herman conducts a traffic stop during a traffic enforcement initiative in Prince Albert in 2019. Herman is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Braden Herman, 26 (no relation).

Brett told the StarPhoenix on Wednesday that the loss hadn’t hit him yet, but he knows it will, and he has a good support system and loving family.

 “I’ve never had to endure anything like this before, like with the media and all of this. But I’m just trying to be strong,” he said.

Outside of the courthouse Thursday, Brett said he liked to check in with his brother, to see how he was doing. The last time they talked, Brett said, Braden was in a bad place. They talked about Braden’s efforts to find work.

“We all miss him,” Brett said.

“He was a good guy. He never had anything bad to say about anybody He’s going to leave a lot of people with a lot of unanswered questions. We’re all going to really miss him.”

Brett Herman speaks to reporters outside of Prince Albert Provincial court on May 13, 2021. Brett’s brother, Braden Herman, was identified as the victim of a suspected homicide. Bernie Herman (no relation), a 32-year member of the RCMP, has been charged with First Degree Murder. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

 Brett said his brother “went down the wrong path,” spending time with people “who weren’t very motivational for him,” but was working on turning his life around.

Brett moved to Prince Albert from Clearwater Dene Nation in 2006. Braden followed closely after. Braden attended high school in the city, spending time at both St. Mary and Carlton Comprehensive.

Braden was “a fun-loving guy, very funny.” That’s how he would like his brother to be remembered, he said.

Braden’s adoptive sister, Daphanie Herman, alleged in an interview with the StarPhoenix that Bernie had begun to follow Braden, finding out where he lived and driving by throughout the day. She alleges Braden had been harassed by the officer for the last two years — and that he was using his police powers to do so. That allegation has not been tested in court.

“I am praying my hardest to get justice done for my brother, no one’s life should be taken away in this world,” Daphanie wrote in a Facebook message to The StarPhoenix.

She said the death of Braden’s twin, Blade, in 2015 left him grief-stricken.

Brett said Braden struggled after Blade’s death and he was worried something was going to happen to Braden, but he didn’t think he’d die at someone else’s hands.

“(Braden) was having a hard time dealing with that, coping with it,” Brett said.

“He and my late brother were very close. That was his go-to person to talk about things like that.”

The siblings lost their mother when Brett was six and the twins were babies, he added. The twins were raised by their grandmother, who is heartbroken about Braden’s death.

Brett said he has been giving family members space, but he is set to check in on Braden’s grandmother.

He would also like to know more details from the police.

The Prince Albert Police Service Criminal Investigation Division is leading the investigation. They have requested that an independent observer oversee the investigation.

The Saskatchewan RCMP said in a statement that contraventions to its code of conduct are taken seriously, and a modification to the member’s duty status is being processed.

Bernie was off-duty at the time of the alleged incident, the Prince Albert police said.

He has been remanded into custody and is set to appear by video on May 26.

Brett said that when the man accused of killing his brother is in court, he too will be there. Daphanie has also vowed to attend all of Bernie’s future court appearance.

“(Me and Braden) were very close, there is no denying that,” he said.

“He was my brother. I will always love him. I will always remember him.”

— with StarPhoenix files from Thia James