Boulder officers in elk-killing -- Sam Carter and Brent Curnow-- resign; investigation continues

Neighbors: Resigning was the right thing to do

BOULDER - Two police officers charged with felonies in the shooting of a trophy elk in Boulder’s historic Mapleton neighborhood have resigned from the department.

In a news release issued Tuesday afternoon, department officials said Sam Carter and Brent Curnow both turned in letters of resignation to Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner, and that the chief accepted the resignations effective immediately.

"Quite frankly, they were facing being fired and they knew that," said Beckner, speaking before the Boulder City Council Tuesday night.

Carter is accused of shooting and killing the 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 further investigation uncovered new evidence.

According to the affidavit released Friday, Carter and his friend, Officer Brent Curnow, had been talking about killing the elk since 3 a.m.  The elk was shot and killed around 11:50 p.m.

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.”

At the Boulder City Council meeting Tuesday night, Beckner said other officers had no idea what Carter planned to do, despite reports mentioned in the affidavit that he told other officers he planned to kill the elk days before it happened.


"I know there are concerns based on conversations that may have taken place in the police department. Police officers talk about things and joke around about things all the time, rarely is it taken literally or seriously," said Beckner.

Neighbors say they’re glad the officers have resigned.

“I believe it’s probably in their best interest that they did that,” said Nancy Helmer. “There’s just so much evidence on file. I think that was the only recourse they had.”

Had they not resigned, both officers were facing termination for their actions, according to the news release.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said Carter and Curnow were arrested Friday and then released on $20,000 bond.

Both have been charged with felonies.

Felony Charges:

  • 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
  • Unlawful take of an elk outside of hunting season.

The former officers also face several misdemeanor charges: unlawful taking of a trophy class elk, Samson surcharge, taking an elk out of season, misconduct, and using an electronic device to communicate in violation of state gaming laws.

The news release states that although both officers are no longer members of the department, the internal personnel investigation into the circumstances and their behavior on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2, 2013 will continue.

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