Ex-Boulder police officers plead not guilty, face trial for trophy elk shooting

BOULDER, Colo. - Two Boulder police officers who resigned over the shooting of a trophy elk will face trial.

Sam Carter and Brent Curnow pleaded not guilty Friday morning, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. Their trial was scheduled for October.

Carter is accused of shooting and killing a trophy elk on Jan. 1, while it was eating crab apples from a tree at 9th and Mapleton Streets.

The affidavit states that Carter didn’t tell his superiors that he discharged his weapon until neighbors contacted news organizations to learn what happened.

Investigators say Carter then told them that the elk was injured and showing signs of aggressive behavior.

Initially, the department believed Carter and said, "In the officer’s judgment, the animal needed to be humanely put down."

But a necropsy determined that the animal was healthy and uninjured. The investigation also determined that  Carter and his friend, Curnow, had been talking about killing the elk since 3 a.m., according to the affidavit. The elk was shot and killed around 11:50 p.m. (See text messages below.)

An investigation showed that after the elk was shot, Curnow drove up and loaded the animal into the back of a pickup, then took it away to process the meat.

"The Boulder Police Department does not tolerate this kind of behavior," said Chief Mark Beckner. "Police officers and other members of this department will be held accountable for their actions and behavior, and we want the community to know how seriously we take this breach of trust."

Had they not resigned, both officers were facing termination for their actions.

Carter and Curnow were charged with several crimes including forgery, tampering with physical evidence, attempting to influence a public servant, conspiracy to commit the crime of unlawful taking of a 4x6 trophy class elk and unlawful take of an elk outside of hunting season.

-- According to the affidavit these text messages were exchanged:

2:56 a.m.: Carter to Curnow: "Found wapiti you up"  (wapiti is another term for elk)

3:55 a.m.: Curnow to Carter: "Yep"

4:14 a.m.: Carter to Curnow: "Should I go Hunting"

2:15 p.m.: Curnow to Carter:  "You should have killed it"

7:44 p.m.: Carter to Curnow: "Oh he's dead tonight. His right side is broke off at the main beam. And he looks a little smaller. He may not be wapiti but he's gonna die."

11:44 p.m.: Carter to Curnow: "Found him"

11:44 p.m.: Curnow to Carter: "Get him"

11:45 p.m.: Carter to Curnow: "Too many people right now. Start heading this way. 9/Mapleton"

11:54: p.m.: Curnow to Carter: "You gonna be able to help butcher it? Or are you gonna go home sick?"

11:54: p.m.: Carter to Curnow: "I can butcher"

11: 55 p.m.: Curnow to Carter: "K When you think you can whack it"

11:58 p.m.: Carter to Curnow: "Elk down"

12:06 a.m.: Curnow to Carter: "If we could find the broken part of the antler I could fix it for a mount"

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