COLORADO -- A Boulder County sheriff's deputy testified Friday that ex-cop Sam Carter told him a "lie" by saying he had orders to shoot an elk in a Boulder neighborhood because it was injured in an accident.
|Sam Carter, left, and attorney Marc Colin, right, watch witness Roger |
Koenig enter the courtroom starting the third day of Carter's trial in the
shooting of a trophy elk on Mapleton Hill in Boulder, Colorado May 30, 2014.
BOULDER DAILY CAMERA/ Mark Leffingwell
|Sheriff's Deputy Jeff George testifies Friday, the third day of Sam |
Carter's trial in the shooting of a trophy elk on Mapleton Hill in Boulder.
(Mark Leffingwell / Daily Camera)
After taking the stand in Carter's trial, Deputy Jeff George said Carter had discussed the elk with him prior to shooting it in Boulder's Mapleton Hill neighborhood Jan. 1, 2013.
"He mentioned on approximately two occasions that there was a bull elk up in the Mapleton Hill area seen harassing dogs and people," George said.
Carter, 37, is facing charges including attempting to influence a public official, tampering with evidence, official misconduct, illegal possession of a trophy elk and unlawful taking of a big game animal after he shot the elk while on duty.
The trial centers on whether the shooting was a plot to kill a beloved trophy elk and cover it up, or an officer euthanizing an aggressive and injured animal.
George said he met with Carter and a few other officers for coffee before going on shift the night the elk was shot, and he said Carter told him he was going to go look for the elk.
"The way that I interpreted it, Sam had authorization to put the elk down if he saw it," George said.
George said he got a text from Carter telling him he had located the elk. When he arrived on the scene, he said he was "very surprised" at how big the dead elk was. When asked by prosecutor Fred Johnson if Carter appeared to be "proud" of the kill, George said yes, and said the photo Carter took with the elk was "something out of a hunting magazine."
After helping load the elk into the truck of Brent Curnow, another former Boulder officer, George left the scene. He said he was "shocked" the next morning to see the elk all over the news and immediately called his supervisors.
"Did you think something was up?" Johnson asked George, to which he replied, "Absolutely."
George said he did not notice any injuries on the elk aside from the gunshot and saw no evidence of a car accident. When asked by Johnson if he believed Carter's initial story that the elk had been injured in an accident, George said that, in his opinion, "It was a lie."
George also said in talking to Carter about where he was when he fired on the elk, Carter failed to account for the houses and sidewalk in his line of fire.
|"Elk are a part of nature and nature is a very special thing |
on earth and it [is] really sad that elk died and whatever
police officer did [it] made a really bad [decision]
and should be arrested and ashamed."
"It was a very dangerous shot," George said.
He testified that on previous occasions Carter had told him that if the Sheriff's Office ever had an elk carcass, "He'd like to have it."
'Didn't like sergeants knowing where he was'
|Sgt. Alastair Mcniven talks about the GPS system installed in Boulder police |
cars during the third day of Carter's trial in the shooting of a trophy elk on
Mapleton Hill in Boulder, Colorado May 30, 2014.
BOULDER DAILY CAMERA/ Mark Leffingwell
Boulder police officer Melanie Patterson, who also had coffee with Carter and George that day, said she thought Carter was just going to "go look at it." When she saw the story the next morning about the elk being shot, she texted Carter and he acknowledged he had shot it. Patterson said initially she was not surprised.
"I figured if officer Carter put that elk down, he had a legitimate reason to do so," Patterson said.
Patterson said she assumed Carter would tell a sergeant about the elk, but when she came to the police station the next day her supervisors were still trying to figure out who had shot the animal.
Boulder police Sgt. Alastair McNiven also testified Friday that he talked to Carter twice in the hours after the shooting and that Carter never mentioned shooting the elk, something he said he would have "expected" Carter to tell him.
Patterson said she initially supported Carter but felt misled after media reports came out of the texts between Carter and Curnow.
She also said Carter told her he had learned how to disable his GPS and even offered to show her how to do it in her police vehicle.
"He didn't like certain sergeants knowing where he was," Patterson said.
Ted McEldowney, emergency communications manager for Boulder police and fire, said there was evidence on the dashboard of Carter's unit that indicated a person had been moving it and had been "yanking" the GPS antennae cord in and out.
'We just shoot them'
On cross-examination, Patterson did say she had previously helped Carter and Curnow pick up a deer carcass after it was hit by a car. Carter and Curnow were on duty at the time and Patterson was not, and she came in Carter's truck to pick up the deer.
In a separate incident, federal police officer Pete Rodriguez testified that, in 2008, while on patrol at Boulder's National Institute of Standards and Technology, he encountered a deer stuck in a fence but "very alive."
Rodriguez said he called out for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, but Carter showed up instead and, upon getting out of the car, reached for his weapon.
"I said, 'Whoa, what are you doing?' and he said, 'We just shoot them,'" Rodriguez testified. "But I told him, 'We're not going to shoot no deer tonight.'"
Carter's attorney, Marc Colin, on cross-examination pointed out that Rodriguez described the scene in a report as a "murder scene" due to blood coming from the deer's antlers, which were still in velvet.
"So what Mr. Carter saw was a deer hanging upside down, thrashing around with blood everywhere?" Colin said.
The trial is expected to last several more days.
(Daily Camera - May 30, 2014
Boulder ex-officers plead not guilty in elk death
Internal report: No other Boulder police officers aware of cops' plans to kill Mapleton Elk
Boulder officers arrested, accused of plotting 'trophy' kill of Mapleton elk
Boulder police suspend 2 officers over Mapleton elk shooting, sheriff launches probe
Off-duty Boulder officer in elk shooting had called in sick, operates taxidermy website
Boulder chief on elk shooting: 'If that officer needs to be fired, I assure you he will be fired'
Evans: "It's not about the elk"
Boulder cop's text hours before shooting Mapleton elk: 'He's gonna die'
Ex-cop elk killers: DA seeks to combine two cases into single trial
Animal abuse treated too lightly in Boulder
Why did Big Boy die? Officer on trial over elk