Two Boulder police officers and a Boulder County Sheriff’s deputy are under investigation for their roles in the shooting and killing a large bull elk in a residential neighborhood.
One police officer failed to report the incident or tell his supervisors that he’d fired a shotgun to bring down the elk, and another, who was off-duty, made off with the trophy animal’s carcass to process the meat.
The cops are suspended pending the results of an internal investigation for failing to report the incident; the deputy also faces an internal probe but hasn’t been placed on administrative leave. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is conducting a criminal investigation on suspicion of poaching.
Poaching a trophy animal with six or more points on its antlers carries a fine of $10,000. It is also illegal to hunt within city limits.
The Daily Camera originally called the killing a “murder mystery” because police officials denied that officers were involved, even though witnesses reported seeing men in uniforms and police vehicles in the area.
But neighbors provided the paper with photos that clearly show a Boulder police officer, complete with his name stitched on his uniform, posing with the dead animal.
On Thursday, Police Chief Mark Beckner apologized for denying the department’s involvement, but said that he was as much in the dark about the incident as anyone.
“We had no record of it in dispatch, we had no record of it in records … and none of our supervisors were aware of anything,” he said during at a press conference.
Officers are required to file a report whenever they fire a weapon, a practice that Beckner said should be “common sense” to anyone on the force.
In a press release, the department said the officer killed the elk because he thought it was limping and needed to be humanely put down. However, he didn’t consult with anyone or discuss his intentions with supervisors.
Elk are commonly seen in neighborhoods near the foothills this time of year, and neighbors told the paper that the elk had been wandering their yards for a few days. A memorial has been erected where it was killed.
This story has been updated.
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