District Attorney Stan Garnett announces that charges are being filed against two Boulder police officers in the Mapleton Hill elk shooting.
District Attorney Stan Garnett announces that charges are being filed against two Boulder police officers in the Mapleton Hill elk shooting. (Mark Leffingwell, Daily Camera)

Abhorrent. Deplorable. Inexcusable.

Those are just a few of the words that come to mind reading through an affidavit released Friday that contends two Boulder police officers conspired to kill an elk earlier this month.

And they only touch the surface.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett announced Friday that the pair had been arrested on suspicion of variety of felony and misdemeanor counts: tampering with physical evidence, attempting to influence a public official and forgery (all felonies) as well as official misconduct and several other misdemeanors regarding killing wildlife.

Officers Sam Carter and Brent Curnow, who resigned on Tuesday, face prison time as well as the loss of their police certification.

Looking closely at the investigative materials released Friday, it's hard to imagine a Boulder County jury — or a jury anywhere in Colorado, for that matter — going lightly.

The details were enough for police Chief Mark Beckner to move the officers from paid to unpaid administrative leave Friday afternoon.

As the Daily Camera's Mitchell Byers reported, Carter is alleged to have killed the elk with his shotgun while on duty the night of Jan. 1 and Curnow — with the help of a sheriff's deputy — later arrived to help remove the carcass.

The Boulder cops unsuccessfully tried to delete the electronic communications that should be their undoing.

Those exchanges show that they plotted and then carried out the killing with the intent of butchering the animal for meat and possibly as a trophy mount.

"You should have killed it" Curnow reportedly messaged Carter at around 2:45 that afternoon.

"Oh he's dead tonight. His right side is broke off at the main beam," Carter responded, referring to the animal's antlers. "And he looks a little smaller. He may not be wapiti but he's gonna die."

After worrying about witnesses and discussing plans with Curnow to "butcher" and "wack" (sic) the animal, Carter at 11:58 p.m. messaged: "Elk down."

Curnow arrived on scene driving a pickup truck, and they worked for an hour to load up the kill. They later butchered it and then tried to cover up their crimes — concocting a story about how they put an injured animal out of its misery.

Two weeks ago we urged Garnett to aggressively investigate the officers' involvement in the killing of the bull elk that was a regular visitor to a neighborhood just north of Boulder's Pearl Street Mall.

Garnett's work leads us to conclude that the officers abused their positions and violated the public trust in their attempt to poach wildlife.

We have seen nothing to date that suggests the officers warrant sympathy and hope that the justice system delivers an appropriately severe punishment.