Former Boulder police officer Brent Curnow avoids jail time in Mapleton elk shooting case

Sentenced to probation and home detention

BOULDER, Colo. - One of two former Boulder police officers accused of plotting to kill a trophy elk on Mapleton Hill on New Year's Day has accepted a plea deal.

Brent Curnow was sentenced Tuesday to probation and 60 days home detention after admitting guilt to possession of wildlife with a trophy elk designation. Electronic monitoring will start immediately.

Court documents accused him of discussing with another cop the plan to kill the animal known to the community as "Big Boy." After the other officer shot the elk, Curnow allegedly helped to move the animal's carcass and process the meat.

"Because these were two law enforcement officers, there's a breach of public trust," the judge said. "Consequences must be stiffer."

The district attorney had asked the judge not to sentence Curnow to jail.

"Curnow is already paying a price for his actions. But, this is a serious case that reflects disconnect between officers and the community," the DA said.

Curnow and fellow officer Sam Carter pleaded not guilty in May. Their trial was scheduled for October.

Carter is accused of shooting and killing the elk known as "Big Boy" on Jan. 1 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.

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

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.

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

Curnow's attorney described the ex-cop as "a good man, who has been out of job since the elk shooting happened in January."

As part of the plea deal Curnow pleaded guilty to one felony count of tampering with physical evidence and four misdemeanors, including illegal possession of a trophy elk with a Samson Law surcharge, conspiracy to commit illegal possession of wildlife, unlawful taking of a big game animal out of season, and unlawful use of an electronic communication device to unlawfully take wildlife.

Three other felonies and a misdemeanor were dropped, Curnow's attorney Patrick Mulligan told the Daily Camera.

Each charge carried a maximum penalty of one year in jail.