An RCMP officer accused of killing 26-year-old Braden Herman provided investigators with details that led to his own arrest, the Prince Albert Police Service said Friday.
Police Chief Jon Bergen held a Friday evening media availability to discuss the investigation’s progress so far. He said Bernie Herman, the 32-year member of the RCMP who has been charged with first-degree murder in the incident, played a role in finding the victim’s remains and in providing information leading to his own arrest.
Bernie, 53, is said to have known Braden, though the two were not related. Braden’s brother, Brett Herman, told media on Thursday that the two men once stayed in the same house, a residence on Dent Crescent that has been searched by police.
Bernie made his first court appearance Thursday and is set to return on May 26.
Police said in a press release Wednesday that Braden was found Tuesday evening in a wooded area of the city. Bergen said Friday that Braden’s remains were located in city limits near Little Red River Park. He said Bernie was arrested a short time later, and taken into custody with “reasonable cooperation.”
That arrest, Bergen said, “Occurred shortly after when we believe the incident to have happened.”
He added that police received information about the homicide within a couple of hours of the incident occurring. Braden’s remains were found by investigating officers, not by a member of the public.
“Bernie Herman indirectly provided us with the details we needed to lead us to the victim and lead us to his arrest,” Bergen said.
“It was because of the accused that we were led to his arrest … and we were led to the deceased victim shortly after the incident.”
He said the police hopes to provide more details about the case and the ongoing investigation early next week. He also hopes to provide information about what led the police to lay a charge of first-degree murder, which implies an accusation of premeditation or planning.
On Thursday, two of Braden’s siblings alleged in interviews with the Saskatoon Star Phoenix that Bernie had been harassing Braden. They said Braden didn’t take his concerns forward to the city police because of the relationship between the Prince Albert Police and the local RCMP. The StarPhoenix reported that Braden believed Bernie had friends within the city police force.
Bergen declined to comment on details of Braden’s relationship with Bernie.
“With the investigation still being in its really early stages, we’re still learning more about those details. We too don’t have all of those specific answers yet,” Bergen said.
“As time goes on, we hope to learn more specifically what that relationship is.”
He confirmed that Bernie is not believed to have been on duty at the time of the alleged incident. The RCMP said Bernie was a member of the Prince Albert detachment’s traffic enforcement unit.
Given Bernie’s work as a police officer and the relationship between the city police and RCMP,
Prince Albert police had requested that independent investigators be appointed to oversee their investigation. On Friday, Bergen said a pair of investigators had been appointed to oversee the case. He declined to identify the investigators, saying only that both were veterans of different municipal police forces and had no connections to either the RCMP or the Prince Albert service.
‘We recognize that the RCMP is a national police force and all municipal agencies have a working relationship with the RCMP,” Bergen said.
“Given that the accused was a well-known member of our local community, I know it is important to have public oversight on this file.”
Bergen said that he himself briefly worked alongside Bernie when they were both assigned to traffic units 20 years ago. He’s confident that the police service will be able to conduct an impartial investigation, despite the accused being another officer who worked in the local area. He committed to a thorough, impartial investigation.
“If I felt there was any conflict or concern with our ability to investigate this homicide, we would not be investigating it,” Bergen said.
“I have complete confidence in our criminal investigation division and their ability to provide a complete package to the courts for their consideration in hearing this charge. I have the full confidence in our staff and our team to do a thorough, complete independent investigation.”