BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The district attorney in Boulder on Friday announced that his office is filing multiple charges against the two police officers involved in the killing of an elk in a neighborhood, an incident that led to an outcry from angered residents.
Sam Carter and Brent Curnow were both arrested on Friday after District Attorney Stan Garnett filed a warrant for their arrest. Garnett said he is taking this case seriously, and reached out to Colorado Parks and Wildlife for assistance as he built his case.
Both officers face three felony charges in addition to a number of misdemeanor charges. The charges include unlawful taking of elk, killing of an elk out of season and conspiracy.
The elk was shot on Jan. 1 near the intersection of 9th and Mapleton by Carter, who was seen in a photo posing with the elk like it’s a trophy.
The arrest affidavit in the case released Friday showed some of the text messages prosecutors say the two officers exchanged that night.
“Should I go hunting?”
“Did you shoot him?”
“Too many people right now.”
“You gonna be able to help butcher it? Or are you gonna go home sick?”
“You should have killed it”
“Oh he’s dead tonight. His right side is broke off at the main beam. And he looks a little smaller.”
“If we could find the broken part of the antler I could fix it for a mount”
Neighbors say the elk had been living in their neighborhood for weeks and was not a threat. A silent walk, a candlelight vigil for the elk and meetings with Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner followed the shooting.
Garnett said Friday afternoon the publicity over the situation had no influence on his decision to file charges.
Beckner apologized for the “unfortunate incident” in a prepared statement released after Garnett’s announcement. He said that he intends “to hold these officers accountable for their actions.”
“Effective immediately, I have placed Sam Carter and Brent Curnow on unpaid administrative leave,” he wrote.
Beckner said earlier the shooting wasn’t reported by either officer until residents began to ask questions. He said Carter, who was on duty and on patrol in the area at the time, reported that he felt the animal needed to be “humanely euthanized” because it was injured.
After Carter shot and killed it with a single shot, he allegedly called Curnow. After Carter posed for a photo with the elk, Curnow “took the elk in his own vehicle to process the meat for personal use,” Beckner wrote in a letter to residents.
Beckner said an internal personnel investigation into the incident is still under way.
“This investigation is different and separate from the criminal investigation, and has to do with whether these officers may have violated rules, policies or procedures,” he wrote. “We hope to move quickly now to complete our internal personnel investigation. Once that is finished, there is a review process that includes a combined community and department member review panel which will provide recommendations to me on the final disposition. If the allegations are sustained, the discipline for such allegations – including being untruthful – would typically be termination from employment.”