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Elk-Gate: Boulder DA, Police Chief Support Boulder Police Dept. Despite Mapleton Elk Shooting

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Boulder's district attorney and police chief talked to the city's elected leaders Tuesday night about the shooting of an elk on Mapleton Hill on Jan. 1, expressing support for the police force despite the charges against two officers.

Police Chief Mark Beckner said the two officers, Sam Carter and Brent Curnow, were scheduled to come in Tuesday for interviews with internal affairs. They did not arrive for their interviews and submitted their resignations later in the day.

Beckner addressed police culture concerns -- such as information that other officers heard Carter talking about shooting the elk a week before it was killed -- by inviting the City Council members to come to a shift briefing later this week to ask the other officers themselves exactly what happened.

"Come to briefing," Beckner said. "Look these officers in the eye. Ask them your own questions. These officers are as shocked as I am."

Boulder Mayor Matt Appelbaum said he felt reassured by how the police department had responded.

"While this incident is not one we want to see in Boulder, I think it's been handled exceptionally well," he said.

District Attorney Stan Garnett told the council that he supports the police department and the way the case has been handled.

He described how his prosecutors work closely with police officers and said his high conviction rate at trial reflects the way their police work holds up under scrutiny.

"Obviously, in any organization of a couple of hundred employees, there will, from time to time, be behavioral issues among those employees. Those issues are a top concern to my office due to the importance of maintaining the highest standards in law enforcement and a strong reputation among the public," he said, reading from a letter to the council.

"What has been particularly satisfying to me and my staff is that on the rare occasion when there has been a difficult issue regarding behavior of a Boulder police officer, we have been able to investigate the issues thoroughly and take appropriate action, not only without interference from Boulder Police Department Command Staff, but with their active assistance."

Garnett said the Boulder Police Department has been much more cooperative than other police departments. He said he assigns one of his top prosecutors whenever a case involves law enforcement officers.

"We take these cases very seriously," he said.

Garnett said the hunting law violations that are part of the allegations could affect the officers' ability to hunt or work in hunting-related fields in the future.

The District Attorney's Office will be notifying defense attorneys of any cases in which the two officers were involved. Garnett said he has strict obligations to inform the defense of potentially exculpatory evidence, including information that speaks to the credibility of the officers involved.

Garnett said he does not know how many cases or which cases might be affected, but nearly all of them would have other police officers involved who could testify.

On Friday, Carter and Curnow were arrested on suspicion of nine charges each, including three felonies. Both were booked and released on $20,000 personal recognizance bonds.

According to an arrest affidavit, texts between Carter and Curnow showed the shooting of the elk was premeditated.

Carter shot the elk with a shotgun, but, according to police, he never reported the shooting to his supervisors. Curnow -- who had called in sick that night -- then came in a private pickup truck to haul away the body.

Carter and Curnow could face prison time and the loss of their official police certification.

Boulder County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff George -- who helped load the elk and texted Carter -- was not arrested. He is the subject of an internal personnel investigation by the Sheriff's Office but has not been placed on leave. ___

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