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Ex-Boulder police officers accused of shooting elk plead not guilty

BOULDER, Colo. — The two former Boulder police officers accused of planning and executing the shooting of an elk cherished by a Mapleton neighborhood will head to trial after entering not guilty pleas in a Boulder District Court Friday morning.

Sam Carter, 36, and Brent Curnow, 38, are each charged with nine total counts, four of which are felonies. The felony charges include two counts of tampering with physical evidence, one count of forgery and one count of attempting to influence a public official.

The misdemeanor counts include first-degree official misconduct, illegal possession of a trophy elk with a Samson Law surcharge, conspiracy to commit illegal possession of wildlife, unlawfully taking of a big game animal out of season and unlawful use of an electronic communication device to unlawfully take wildlife.

Their trial is now set for the week of Oct. 14.

Animal rights activists say the Boulder County District Attorney could have filed an even harsher charge against the two former officers, who resigned during the course of an investigation into the elk shooting. That charge, activists say, was aggravated cruelty to animals, which is also a felony.

The officers issued no comment upon leaving the courtroom Friday. The same could not be said about the animal advocates, who say these former officers are being let off the hook by the justice system.

“These cops are getting a break,” said Rita Anderson, a spokesperson for In Defense of Animals. “A lot of people make fun of Boulderites for making a big deal out of this. But I think it’s important. Violence is violence. Killing is killing.”

Investigators say Carter and Curnow killed the elk on January 1 in a Mapleton neighborhood, with little regard for the safety of others in the area. Cell phone records also suggest the two former officers had been plotting to kill the elk for over a week.

An arrest affidavit stats that Carter shot the elk while on duty, and that Curnow, who had called in sick to work, arrived to haul the animal away in a pickup truck. The duo snapped photos of themselves with the deceased elk, as well.

Carter has insisted he shot the elk because he saw it wounded, though he gave no reason for why he did not report the shooting. And a later a necropsy on the animal provided no evidence of a prior injury.

After Boulder police chief Marc Beckner decided to suspend the officers as the only form of punishment, Mapleton residents demanded and received a meeting. Shortly after that, Beckner accepted the resignations of both officers.