Now that they don't work for him, Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner can speak candidly about the mood in his department.
"These officers are as shocked as you and and me," the chief told members of the Boulder City Council Tuesday night. "they're embarrassed and they are angry. There's nobody in our department supporting these two right now."
"They should be embarrassed," added animal rights activist Rita Anderson with the group In Defense of Animals.
The police and public in Boulder are astonished by a photo of officer Sam Carter posing with the trophy elk's carcass as a hunter would, and by a series of text messages between him and fellow officer Brent Curnow making plans to kill the animal.
The messages appeared along with an arrest warrant, which included witnesses saying that Carter admitted to killing the animal with his police-issued shotgun and ammunition.
Carter and Curnow both turned in letters of resignation to Chief Beckner after skipping out on a Monday interview with internal investigations. Beckner says a lawyer showed up instead.
"Quite frankly they were facing being fired and they knew that," Beckner said.
Beckner has accepted their resignations, adding there is a real possibility that the men will ultimately be banned from ever working as peace officers in Colorado again. That decision is made by a separate board.
That's one reason the internal personnel investigation into the circumstances and their behavior on Jan. 1 and Jan. 2, 2013 will continue.
Meantime, District Attorney Stan Garnett says the resignations have no impact on the criminal case, which his office is advancing as quickly as possible.
"We anticipate that we will file charges very similar to what was in the probable cause warrant, probably by a week from Friday," Garnett said.
Both men bonded out on suspicion of charges including forgery, tampering with physical evidence, illegally killing a trophy elk and killing an elk out of season.
Carter allegedly told investigators the elk looked like it needed to be killed because of an injury. Court documents show that an examination of the animals remains show it was not injured.
Boulder's mayor expressed confidence in the legal process.
"It was illegal," Mayor Matt Appelbaum said. "They did it, but they'll be dealt with appropriately."
Members of the city council still want answers about how much other officers knew about the plans to hunt the elk. Court documents refer to other officers who told investigators they heard talk about the planned illegal hunt nearly a week before it happened.
Meantime, Anderson says animal rights activists are planning a memorial of some sort for the slain elk. They've already raised $3,000 for the effort.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)