Colorado Police Officers Accused of Elk Killing Cover-up

On Jan. 18, Officers Samuel Carter and Brent Curnow of the Boulder Police Department in Colorado were arrested in connection with a suspicion shooting death that occurred on New Year’s Day. The victim: a large bull elk, which prosecutors believe the two men poached for its meat.

This allegation runs counter to Officer Carter’s original story. In a sworn statement, he recalled finding the animal wandering aimlessly through Boulder’s Mapleton neighborhood in the early hours of 2013. The elk was limping, Carter said, and its antlers appeared to be broken. Acting within the bounds of compassion, Carter euthanized the animal with his shotgun and called Curnow (who was off-duty at the time) to come help him butcher the elk and transport the meat home. Under those circumstances, confiscating the animal’s remains for consumption is legal, provided they first notified their superiors of the incident — which they did not, even after the fact.

In a letter to the residents of Mapleton, Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner condemned the actions of his subordinates. “In this case, it appears that the officers involved did not follow standard procedures in alerting police dispatch, contacting a supervisor about how to deal with the injured elk or following up with a written incident report,” he wrote.

As suspicions arose, new facts came to light. At a shift meeting that convened on Dec. 26, both Carter and Curnow supposedly talked about shooting the elk. Then there were the eyewitnesses to the shooting, who told wildlife officials that the animal did not appear to be injured or in pain. Soon, the Boulder Police Department realized the full-fledged cover-up that took place — and as a result, both officers involved will likely lose their badges. ”If the allegations are sustained, the discipline for such allegations — including being untruthful — would typically be termination from employment,” Beckner stated.

Carter and Curnow face a barrage of charges, both felonies (forgery, tampering with evidence) and misdemeanors (official misconduct, illegal taking of an elk). When their bail was set at $20,000 each, both defendants received a hand-written note from the court. It read: “No hunting”.

By Brad Nehring