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Samuel Carter and Brent Curnow: Boulder cops charged in elk shooting resign

Update: Earlier today, we shared the arrest affidavit naming Samuel Carter, one of two Boulder cops charged in the shooting of a Mapleton neighborhood elk on New Year's Day; see our previous coverage below. Now, the City of Boulder has announced that Carter and cohort Brent Curnow, who also faces criminal counts in the matter, have sent letters of resignation to the BPD -- and the department's chief has accepted them.

The city release quotes Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner as saying, "The Boulder Police Department does not tolerate this kind of behavior. 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."

The release stresses that the BPD's internal investigation will continue despite the resignations -- and so will the now-former officers' prosecution by the Boulder District Attorney's Office.

Continue for our previous coverage.

Original post 9:45 a.m. January 22: After the New Year's Day police shooting of an elk known to Mapleton area residents, Boulder Police apologized for "confusion" over the incident. Since then, bafflement over the initial tale told by officers Sam Carter and Brent Curnow has only grown. Now, both have been charged with crimes in what appears to have been a planned effort, not a mercy killing. Details in an affidavit below.

As we've reported, an officer later identified as Carter shot and killed a bull elk in the area of Ninth Avenue and Mapleton Street after 11 p.m. on January 1. According to the initial Boulder Police news release, Carter was on routine patrol when he saw the elk, which he says appeared to be injured. Some of the elk's antlers had been broken off and it was limping, police said.

"In the officer's judgment, the animal needed to be humanely put down," read the statement. The officer fired one shot from a shotgun, killing the elk, which was in a residential yard. That animal was then "taken home to be processed for meat by another officer [Curnow], who was off-duty at the time."

It didn't take long for this story to unravel. For one thing, neither officer had immediately reported the incident. This news was followed by an image of Carter happily posing with the dead animal, as seen in the Boulder Daily Camera.

Samuel Carter and Brent Curnow: Boulder cops charged in elk shooting resign

Next came word that Curnow runs his own taxidermy business -- a revelation that further fueled the anger of residents upset by what had happened and doubtful that the elk had been injured.

The Boulder District Attorney's Office soon launched an investigation to determine if criminal charges against Carter and Curnow were warranted -- and as the Daily Camera reports, prosecutors ultimately determined that they were. The officers were booked on a mix of felony charges (including forgery, tampering with physical evidence and attempting to influence a public official) and misdemeanors (such as killing an elk out of season and unlawful taking of a trophy elk).

Much of the evidence accumulated against the officers is cataloged in the arrest affidavit issued in Carter's name. Here's one roster of factoids that seem to contradict his earlier claims:

• Carter was on duty that night and had admitted upon questioning that he had shot the elk.

• Carter had not told his sergeant about concerns with an injured or aggressive elk.

• Carter did not contact dispatch when he went to the corner of 9th and Mapleton, where the elk was located, and never mentioned the elk to dispatch.

• Carter did not notify either his supervisor or dispatch that he was about to discharge a firearm, or had just discharged a firearm to kill the elk. He never mentioned the shot or having killed a trophy elk during the rest of his shift.

• Carter spent a prolonged period of time at 9th and Mapleton while loading the elk in Curnow's truck without checking in with dispatch.

• Carter had never attempted to contact CPW (Colorado Parks and Wildlife) on call or local district wildlife managers, officers with biological training to access injuries and aggressive behavior in wildlife, and with tools and capabilities to tranquilize and move large ungulates.

• Carter never asked dispatch or his supervisor to contact the City contracted knacker service to remove the animal, nor did he make any attempt to contact CPW to garner advice about disposition of an elk with trophy antlers.

• After clearing the scene Carter contacted his supervisor by phone and requested to go home sick. During this conversation killing of the elk was never mentioned.

Even more damning were text messages between Carter, Curnow and a third law enforcer, beginning shortly after midnight on New Year's Day.

Continue for more about the charging of two Boulder police officers in the shooting of the Mapleton elk, including photos, video and the arrest affidavit.

A screen capture from the website linked to Officer Curnow's taxidermy business.
A screen capture from the website linked to Officer Curnow's taxidermy business.

Here are the elk-related exchanges between various alleged participants, with the first taking place during the first hours of 2013.

• 2:56 a.m. January 1, Carter to Curnow: "Found wapiti you up."

• 3:55 a.m., Curnow to Carter: "Yep."

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

• 5:56 a.m., Carter to Boulder County Sheriff Deputy Jeff George, who is said to have helped pick up the elk's carcass: "Elk 9/Mapleton."

• 6:14 a.m., George to Carter: "Did you shoot him"

• 10:03 a.m., Carter to George: "Nope."

• 2:45 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."

• 10:43 p.m., Carter to George: "9Mapleton."

• 10:45 p.m., George to Carter: "On my way."

• 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. "K. When u think you can wack it?"

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

• 12:36 a.m. January 2, Curnow to Carter: "If we could find the broken part of the antler I could fix it for a mount."

The conclusion of the affidavit based on these texts and other information: "It is apparent that Carter was not acting within the scope of his authority as a Colorado Peace Officer to euthanize a morbidly sick or injured animal."

Charges against the men could reportedly be formalized as early as January 23.

Look below to see booking photos of Carter and Curnow, a video from a candlelight vigil held for the elk and the aforementioned affidavit.

Samuel Carter.
Samuel Carter.

Brent Curnow.
Brent Curnow.

Sam Carter Arrest Affidavit

More from our News archive: "Boulder elk shooting: Suspended cop has taxidermy business."