Former Police Officer Convicted In Boulder Elk Shooting

Boulder Police Officer Sam Carter poses with the elk he shot with his service gun while on duty. (Credit: KCNC)
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The death of an elk unofficially adopted by a Boulder neighborhood outraged residents last year.

Now the residents of Boulder's Mapleton Hill neighborhood have some justice.

Tuesday, 37-year-old Sam Carter was convicted on multiple charges, including illegal hunting. Carter, a former Boulder police officer shot the elk in January 2013, then posed for a picture with it before giving the body to a second Boulder officer called to the scene. Both were arrested on allegations of misconduct and taking an elk out of season. They also resigned from the police department.

“He was just a majestic being and it’s so sad that it came down to this, it’s heartbreaking,” neighbor Jennifer Centeno told KCNC at the time. The elk, called "Big Boy" by residents, was a regular fixture in the Mapleton Hill neighborhood.

Postal carrier Mark Rourke seconded Centeno's sentiments.

"It makes me sick, it just makes me sick. It was a beautiful animal."

Prosecutors said that Carter shot the elk while on duty so he could mount its head on a wall as a trophy. They showed photos of the head mounting process during Wednesday's opening statements.

Carter's defense attorney argued he "euthanized" the animal because it had become too domesticated and was aggressive. He said he did it in the interest of public safety and never tried to mask his actions.

The other officer accused in the incident, Brent Curnow, pleaded guilty to one felony and four misdemeanor charges and was sentenced in September to one year of probation and two months of house arrest.

Several residents later held a candlelight vigil to honor the slain animal. An area animal support group has raised thousands of dollars to pay for a permanent memorial.

Carter will be sentenced in August and could face up to six years in prison.