Two police officers in Boulder, Colo., have been suspended and are now under criminal investigation for their role in killing a large bull elk that wandered into a residential neighborhood.
On Tuesday, a Boulder police officer was on patrol when he spotted a large male elk that appeared to be limping and had broken antlers, according to a department press release.
"In his judgment, he believed the elk needed to be humanely euthanized," the release said. "The officer dispatched the elk with one shot from his shotgun and called another off-duty officer to come pick up the elk carcass."
The off-duty officer, the release said, took the animal to process for meat for his own personal use.
The killing of the large trophy animal then became a bit of a mystery, after Boulder police initially denied that their officers were involved. That's because the department says the two unidentified officers never told anyone about the shooting, as required.
"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," Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner wrote Friday in a letter to the community.
Both officers are now off the streets and Beckner has apologized.
"Two officers involved in Elk shooting incident have been placed on Admin Leave w/pay pending the outcome of investigations," Beckner tweeted Friday morning.
The cops are now the focus of an internal affairs probe in addition to a criminal investigation being conducted by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.
Samson's Law, named after a massive bull elk that was killed in the Colorado town of Estes Park in 1995, carries fines up to $10,000 for illegally hunting trophy animals.
A family who lives at the home where the elk was shot Tuesday told Denver ABC affiliate KMGH-TV that the Elk they nicknamed "Big Boy" was a bit of a neighborhood legend, often coming into their yard to snack on a crabapple tree.
"Everyone had different names for him, we called him Big Boy, other people called him Rufus or Humphrey," Lara Koenig told KMGH.
"He was a little aggressive at times, I think he just really wanted to eat," Koenig said. "He was a little bit lost sometimes. He used to wander down the back of all our backyards."