Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett now says the decision on whether to file criminal charges against the Boulder police officers involved in the shooting and disposal of an elk in the Mapleton Hill neighborhood will not be made this week.
After meeting with Colorado Parks and Wildlife -- which is conducting the criminal investigation into the actions of Boulder police officers Sam Carter and Brent Curnow -- earlier this week, Garnett initially said a decision on charges could be made as early as Friday.
But on Thursday, Garnett said no decision will be announced this week, and the decision likely will not come until the middle of next week.
In the meantime, Garnett said he has received close to 15,000 e-mail messages as well as phone calls and letters about the elk case.
One petition on the In Defense of Animals website -- which sends out automatic e-mails to Garnett, Boulder police Chief Mark Beckner and Colorado Parks and Wildlife each time it is signed online -- already has received more than 14,000 signatures, according to Rita Anderson with In Defense of Animals. Beckner confirmed that he, too, has received thousands of e-mail messages about the elk shooting.
"This is a public office and no member of the public should ever hesitate to contact me about any issue," Garnett said. "I hear from members of the public all the time on all kinds of cases and I respond to all inquiries whenever possible.
"However, the public should understand that, by law, my office must make filing decisions based on the admissible evidence in a case and other ethical factors governing criminal prosecution in Colorado, not how upset the public might be about any particular case," Garnett added.
According to Boulder police, an on-duty Boulder police officer encountered an elk near Mapleton Avenue and Ninth Street late on New Year's Day that he said was injured and needed to be put down. The officer shot the animal with a shotgun, and an off-duty Boulder officer came to pick up the carcass with the help of an on-duty Boulder County sheriff's deputy, later identified as Jeff George.
The officer who shot the elk did not report the incident or notify his supervisors he fired his weapon. Police have not said whether Carter or Curnow fired the weapon, but records show Carter was on duty that night and Curnow was not.
Boulder police are conducting an internal personnel investigation into both Carter and Curnow, who have both been placed on paid leave. George also is subject to an internal probe, but he has not been suspended from duty. ___