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Community Angry After Officer Shoots Beloved Elk

1:58 PM, Jan 4, 2013   |    comments
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Boulder, CO (KUSA) -- The two Boulder Police officers involved in the shooting death of an elk on Mapleton Avenue in Boulder on Tuesday have been placed on paid, administrative leave pending a personnel investigation by the Boulder Police Department, according to a tweet Friday morning from Police Chief Mark Beckner.

"Two officers involved in elk shooting incident have been placed on admin leave w/pay pending the outcome of investigations," he tweeted.

Previously in the day, a statement was released talking about the department's response to the incident.

"We share your concern regarding the elk that was killed in the Mapleton Hill neighborhood on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. We take the situation very seriously and would like you to know that there are two separate investigations underway to determine the facts and details of this incident," the statement reads.

At 11 p.m., the officer killed the bull elk in the area of Ninth Street and Mapleton Avenue.

The elk, known as "Big Boy," had been in the neighborhood for years and was a favorite in the neighborhood.

"I felt really lucky that he would come into my yard, browse and just have his presence. He was such a magnificent animal," neighbor Judy Stone said.

The officer says he was on routine patrol when he saw the elk. The officer says the elk appeared injured because it was limping and some of its antlers were broken off.

"In the officer's judgment, the animal needed to be humanely put down," Boulder Police spokesperson Kim Kobel said in a release.

The elk was in a residential yard when the officer shot it, another aspect that upset residents.

"I come down stairs and my mom and dad told me the police are outside and they shot him, because they told them he was being aggressive," neighbor Lara Koenig said.

Kobel says it appears the officer did not inform Boulder Police Dispatch about his intentions to kill the animal. He did not notify an on-duty supervisor or file a report on the incident.

"Since there was no record about the Boulder Police Department's involvement, it created confusion about who was responsible. We apologize for the confusion and have initiated an internal personnel investigation into the matter," Kobel said.

"We're very concerned about this," Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner said. "There are questions that we have, I'm sure everybody has. We've heard a lot of those questions from the community, and we have those same questions."

The elk was then taken to the officer's home to be processed for meat by another officer, who was off-duty at the time.

Residents say the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department should have been notified and made the final decision on putting down the animal.

According to Boulder Police, two investigations are taking place. The first investigation is a criminal investigation which is being conducted by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife and will focus on whether a crime was committed by the officers. The Boulder Police Department is cooperating fully with wildlife officials and cannot comment on the agency's investigation.

"The second investigation is an internal personnel investigation being conducted by the Boulder Police Department's Professional Standards Unit (internal affairs). This type of investigation is standard procedure when an officer is accused of wrongdoing or of not following policies. In this case it appears that the officers involved did not follow standard procedures in alerting police dispatch, contacting a supervisor about how to deal with the injured elk or following up with a written incident report. We will also be awaiting the outcome of the criminal investigation before reaching any conclusions. This could take several weeks to complete," the release reads.

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