Two Rockland police officers who were fired last month allegedly beat porcupines to death while on duty.
Addison Cox, 27, of Warren and Michael Rolerson, 30, of Searsmont have been charged with aggravated animal cruelty and night hunting. Cox also faces a charge of unlawful use or possession of implements or aids, while Rolerson faces a charge of illuminating wild animals or birds.
Both officers were fired on Sept. 22. They are scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 9.
The alleged animal abuse was revealed in late August after another officer reported the killings to superiors, according to a Maine Warden Service report obtained by the Courier Gazette.
Cox and Rolerson beat porcupines to death with the batons on multiple occasions while on duty, the newspaper reported.
One apparent beating was posted to Snapchat groups — RPD Underground and the Night Crew — used by Rockland police primarily to share family photos to boost morale. In the video, Rolerson beat something on the ground with his baton, saying “I got it” as he returned to his cruiser. A photo of a dead porcupine was then posted, the Gazette reported, citing the investigative report.
Officer Kenneth Smith allegedly filmed and posted the video to the Snapchat group. Smith was placed on administrative leave. (There is also a Sgt. Kenneth Smith in the department.) He denies posting the video, the newspaper reported.
That was one of multiple acts of cruelty outlined in the warden service report. Rolerson allegedly told other officers that he sometimes pepper-sprayed porcupines before or after beating them.
One officer upon learning of the beatings drove to the scene of one on Bog Road, where he found, seven hours later, a beaten porcupine, still alive and twitching. The officer told investigators he was unsure whether to shoot the porcupine to end its suffering, the Gazette reported.
A sergeant, Scott Redmun II, called the beatings “shameful” in a report to the department’s chief, Christopher Young.
“Residents of the city of Rockland recently were victimized by an individual breaking into their homes and stealing valuable items in the middle of the night. During this time, you have uniformed officers on the Bog Road brutally torturing and killing innocent animals,” the Gazette quoted Redmun as saying in the report.
Cox and Rolerson reportedly admitted to the beatings and expressed regret. Rolerson estimated he killed eight porcupines and Cox three, according to the Gazette.
Young said last month that he learned of the allegations of misconduct on Aug. 28 and placed the two officers on administrative leave within 24 hours.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office conducted the internal investigation, while the Maine Warden Service conducted the criminal investigation.
Cox and Rolerson have filed a grievance through the police union challenging their firing.