Formal charges filed against former officers accused of killing trophy elk in Boulder neighborhood

Defense Attorneys: No comment on why men resigned

BOULDER, Colo. - Two former officers at the center of an elk shooting scandal appeared in court and waived their right to have the charges filed against them read in open court.

Sam Carter and Brent Curnow, through their attorneys, asked that Judge Noel Blum give them more time to prepare for their next status conference.

“We don’t have discovery yet,” said Patrick Mulligan, who represents Sam Carter.

Blum set their next appearance date on April 4.

Several charges have been filed against the two former officers, who are accused of killing an elk on New Years Day, while it was eating crab apples from the front yard of a home in the historic Mapleton Hill section of Boulder.

Each defendant has been charged with:

  • One count of attempting to influence a public servant
  • One count of forgery
  • Two counts of tampering with physical evidence
  • One count of 1st degree official misconduct
  • One count of illegal possession of wildlife
  • One count of conspiracy to commit illegal possession of wildlife

Additionally, each defendant has been charged with two wildlife offenses.

  • Hunting out of season
  • Communicating with electronics

“The whole thing just really stinks,” said Boulder resident Brad D. Segal, whose sister lives in the Mapleton Hill area.

Segal told 7NEWS that he attended the court hearing not just because the former officers killed an elk that residents felt was a treasured part of their community, but because they allegedly didn’t tell the truth about what happened.

“Having officers not be honest is really scary,” Segal said. “It makes me wonder about police in general and whether you can trust them.”

Investigators said the officers initially told them the elk appeared to have been injured, was becoming aggressive and needed to be put down.

But a necropsy determined that the animal was healthy and uninjured.

Further investigation revealed that the two officers had been texting each other about killing the elk on New Years Day.

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"

 

Investigators said Curnow, who owns a taxidermy business, drove a truck up to the scene and hauled the carcass away.

Investigators said Carter never called dispatch to tell them that he was going to an area where there were reports of an aggressive elk, never mentioned to his supervisors or dispatch that he had discharged his firearm or was about to discharge his firearm, and never called the Colorado Parks and Wildlife or other wildlife officials to ask them about what to do with an aggressive elk nor how to move it.

When asked about the allegations, Mulligan said, “We don’t have a reaction to them. We want to sit down and analyze them. I’m sure Mr. Colin (Carter’s attorney) wants to do the same – discuss it with one another, discuss it with our clients and determine after we’ve had a chance to conduct our own investigation which direction the case is likely to take.”

When asked why the officers resigned, Mulligan replied, "no comment at this time."

A local representative from the group, In Defense of Animals, attended the hearing.

Rita Anderson said she’s concerned that a sheriff’s deputy, who was in communication with the two defendants that night, has not been found complicit in the alleged crime.

Anderson is spearheading a drive to fund a memorial for the elk.

“It could be a statue or it could be a plaque,” Anderson said. “Or it could be some form of educational program for children about animals, about wildlife, about compassion and non-violence.”

Anderson said there is no time-line on the memorial.

She said she wants to continue following this case, and will speak with Mapleton residents to get their thoughts.

Carter and Curnow are due back in court April 4.

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