The two Boulder police officers involved in the shooting of an elk on Mapleton Avenue late Tuesday were placed on paid administrative leave Friday pending a personnel investigation by the Boulder Police Department.
Meanwhile, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office has launched an internal investigation of its own to determine what role an on-duty sheriff's deputy played that night.
According to Boulder police, officers Sam Carter and Brent Curnow have been placed on leave pending the investigation.
Curnow has been on the force for 14 years, while Carter is a five-year veteran.
According to police, an officer on patrol in a yard near Mapleton Avenue and Ninth Street shot the elk with a shotgun Tuesday night after he said it appeared to be injured, with a limp and some of its antlers broken off. An off-duty officer then arrived to haul away the elk and process it for meat.
Neighbors told the Camera that officers told them they planned to put down the elk because of reports it had been behaving aggressively and not to be alarmed if they heard a gunshot. One woman said she saw the animal a few hours before it was killed, and it was not limping.
The officer did not file a report or notify dispatchers about the incident. A photo taken by a resident in the area shows Carter posing with the elk. Boulder police did not specify whether Carter or Curnow shot the animal, but did specify that the on-duty officer was the one who took the shot. Carter was on duty the night of the shooting and Curnow was not, according to police records.
Cmdr. Rick Brough with the Boulder County Sheriff's Office also said this morning that the deputy who reportedly helped load the elk into the truck also is being investigated by that department, but has not been placed on leave.
Brough said another deputy drove by the scene but does not appear to have been involved.
Both of the police officers also are under criminal investigation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Samson's Law, passed in 1998 after a well-known bull elk in Estes Park was killed by a poacher who was fined just a few hundred dollars, adds substantial fines for the killing of trophy animals. The killing of a bull elk with six-point antlers or larger can carry a fine of up to $10,000, on top of the other criminal penalties for violating hunting rules.
In addition, hunting is never allowed within city limits.
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said he's been getting a lot of emails and phone calls about the case. He wants the public to understand that the criminal investigation by Parks and Wildlife is separate from the internal Boulder police department investigation into whether any department policies were violated.
Both cases, though, will take time, he said. Evidence needs to be analyzed, and witnesses need to be interviewed.
"I am very confident that they are doing a thorough and very independent investigation," Garnett said.
Camera staff reporter Erica Meltzer contributed to this report. Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or email@example.com.