Boulder ex-officer accused of killing trophy elk found guilty on all counts

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BOULDER, Colo. -- A Boulder jury has found the former police officer accused of shooting and killing a trophy elk guilty on all nine counts.

Sam Carter, 37, faced four felony counts along with misdemeanor charges in connection with the plot to illegally shoot and kill the animal out of season.

Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said after the verdict was read that he didn't want Carter to ever work as a police officer again. Conviction on four felonies will likely make that happen.

During closing statements, prosecutors showed the jury text messages Cater sent to fellow officer Brent Curnow from that night.

Investigators said Carter and Curnow killed the elk in January 2013 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.

Prosecutors said Carter shot the elk, known as “Big Boy,” on Mapleton Hill while he was on duty. The officer initially told police he shot the elk because he noticed it was hurt, but a necropsy revealed no evidence of a prior injury.

"This is about a police officer using his authority to deceive people," said Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett.

Carter's attorney, Carrie Slinkyard, said Carter put down the animal because it was aggressive.

She added that "shoddy" police work and intense media coverage caused an "outcome based" investigation.

Slinkyard said prosecutors were "not proud of their investigation," and "If they can't dot their T's and cross their I's, Mr. Carter is not guilty."

Carter was charged with one count of attempting to influence a public official, one count of forgery and two counts of tampering with physical evidence -- all felonies.

The other charges were misdemeanor counts of 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.

Carter didn't talk to the media after the verdict. His sentencing will take place in August. He could get up to six years in prison.


  • dougsmith42

    The animal was aggressive enough to take pictures and brag about it? Elk usually run the other way, it’s not a pitbull or a rodeo bull. ONCE AGAIN….Social media, the drug of the nation, breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.

  • Wendy

    The justice system takes every opportunity to drill into people to “take responsibility for your actions”. Here’s a great example of a member of the justice system NOT doing that. Or at lest he was a member until he did this. That’s not enough though. I hope he does time. We need to send a message that not even the police are above the law. Some of them think they are.

  • Fast45

    Given the innumerable recurring instances of police beating up innocent citizens, circumventing their rights, lying on reports and perjury in court, shooting leased family pets, sexual crimes, and hiding behind gang mentality and union protection … so, what’s the big deal about shooting elk?

    • Anonymous

      He “hunted” it for over a week, watching it, used cell phones and had officers send texts as to its whereabouts, which is illegal when hunting, shot it in a person’s front yard, shot it out of season, and not in a legal hunting area. He felt he was above the law, and now has found out otherwise.

    • Amy

      Thank heavens for a little justice! This animal was not a threat to anyone. The Elk in that area are quite acclimated to humans being nearby, all coexist. That is, until men who want a head on their wall intervene.

  • Denver Girl

    For once Boulder DA does the right thing. Look at Jon Bennet Ramsay, that was such a tragedy.

  • Mike

    I doubt the officer considered the uproar from taking down a neighborhood animal. Regardless what was said, he wanted it for a trophy mount and instead lost his job and will now will do time and have a record.
    If this was an average citizen, I doubt we would have heard much about it but as a cop you got to know better. If nothing else, it gets a cop off the force that doesn’t make good decisions.This went on for over a week and you really didn’t think there would be any fallout? I question the other cops that were helping him out giving the location of the elk for a week….What does that say for the others that didn’t get one said anything to this guy to avoid all of this? Hopefully a lesson learned for all involved. I have to assume 6 years time will never happen as it does seem extreme since DUI’s and assault cases don’t get anything even close to that.

  • jakebrake77

    And this pathetic clown should get the maximum sentence of 6 years!
    DR, BEN CARSON in 2016

  • dougsmith42

    Clearly this police officer wasn’t liked otherwise he’d be sipping fruity drinks in the Bahamas. Another poor soul lacking common sense.. #ChooseYourOwnFate.

  • Carol Todd

    Nice to see some justice at last. This cop messed with the wrong neighborhood in Boulder, comprised of intelligent people who persevered for what is right to the end. It is refreshing to see that there is justice in some cases in Colorado. This degenrate cop needs the 6 years in prison to reprogram his priprities in life.

  • Joh

    “This is about a police officer using his authority to deceive people,” said Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett.

    AKA, a police officer… being a police officer. You know what’s really sad about this? Had that Elk been a person, the officer could have just claimed that the person “lunged” at him and gotten off scott free. Good to know Elk have more rights than people.

  • Tom

    No wonder Jon Bonet’s killer was never found if this is the type of people that the police dept. hires. Incredible!

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