ROCKLAND — Two former Rockland police officers are accused of killing porcupines with their retractable batons on several occasions while on duty, according to an investigator’s report.

A third officer is accused of shooting video of one of the incidents and posting it to a Snapchat account used by other officers.

Addison Cox, 27, of Warren and Michael A. Rolerson, 30, of Searsmont were both charged Oct. 2 with Class C aggravated animal cruelty and a misdemeanor count of night hunting.

Cox was also charged with misdemeanor unlawful use or possession of implements or aids. Rolerson was charged with misdemeanor illuminating wild animals or birds.

The incidents, which took place in early June, came to light when another officer reported them to superiors in late August.

Cox and Rolerson were fired Sept. 22 and issued summonses for the criminal charges on Oct. 2. The third officer, Kenneth Smith, is on administrative leave. Smith is accused of posting the video of Rolerson killing a porcupine.

Both Rolerson and Cox admitted to an investigator that they killed porcupines, according to a report filed by Maine Game Warden investigator Kevin Anderson. Both officers expressed regret for their actions, the report says. Both have also appealed their dismissals.

Rolerson estimated he killed eight porcupines and Cox said he killed three, according to the report.

The case was referred to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office for an internal investigation, conducted by Detective Ron Rollins. Anderson handled the criminal investigation. Sagadahoc County Assistant District Attorney Mike Dumas is prosecuting the cases.

The report compiled by Anderson includes interviews last month with several Rockland police officers about the incidents.

Officers said there were two Snapchat groups within the Rockland Police Department. Most of the photos posted on the Snapchat groups were of family, an officer said.

In early June, a video was posted of Rolerson beating something on the ground with his baton, then returning to the cruiser saying, “I got him.” A photo was then posted of a dead porcupine. Rolerson and another officer said Smith posted the video.

Smith denied posting the video but said he had posted many photos to the Snapchat groups. Once a Snapchat video is played, it disappears.

Another officer told investigators he was in a cruiser when Rolerson suddenly braked to a stop and ran out to beat a porcupine. The fellow officer said he did not know what to do.

Rolerson told other officers he would sometimes pepper spray the porcupines before or after beating them, the report says.

Rolerson also told the investigator he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder after serving a tour in Afghanistan while in the Marine Corps.

He told the investigator that it wasn’t that he disliked porcupines, but that they are rodents and get into his camp and do damage. Rolerson said porcupines are also nuisances on the road.

Cox told the investigator he looked up to Rolerson and was trying to be like him. Cox also served in Afghanistan while in the Marines.

The other officers who either witnessed the incidents or were told about them said nothing until Aug. 28, when one of them spoke with Officer Anne Griffith, who had no prior knowledge of the incidents. Griffith told the other officer that she was going to report the conduct and urged him to do the same, which he did.

“This was not dispatching a deer that was hit by a car, this was not dispatching a pest animal that may be a threat to humans or domesticated animals. These porcupines were in their natural habitat and causing no harm. Officer Rolerson not only chased the animal into the woods to kill it, but returned with a smile on his face and appeared as though he enjoyed it,” according to an Aug. 29 statement from Griffith to her supervisor.

“I am sickened and embarrassed by the actions taken by Officer Rolerson, Officer Cox and Officer Smith. I am ashamed that their actions were witnessed or known by younger, less experienced officers,” Griffith stated.

Sgt. Scott Redmun II also issued a report to Rockland Police Chief Chris Young on Aug. 29 about the conduct of Cox and Rolerson.

“It’s unprecedented that a Rockland police officer would be involved in these shameful acts. 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,” Redmun stated.

The sergeant said he was concerned about possible backlash toward officers who were not involved.

Cox and Rolerson are scheduled to make an initial appearance in court Nov. 9. The court paperwork does not list defense attorneys for them.

Joseph Piccone, the business agent for the Teamsters Union that represents Rockland officers, said Cox and Rolerson both appealed their dismissals. Piccone said they argue that the chief did not have cause to terminate them.

Young released a statement on the incidents on Sept. 30.

“I know that demands for police transparency are coming,” Young said in the statement. “I want you all to know that I agree with those demands and understand the frustration of not knowing exactly what transpired to cause two officers to be terminated. Generally speaking, if an officer is alleged to have violated departmental policies, we would investigate that allegation. … If there were an allegation of criminal conduct, I may, and likely would, request an outside agency conduct the criminal investigation concurrently.”

Officer Cox had been with the Rockland department since 2016. In 2017, he was one of three Rockland officers who received the department’s “Meritorious Service Award” for thwarting a kidnapping the year before.

In 2018, he received the “Life Saving Award” from the Maine Chiefs of Police Association for his actions Jan. 31, 2018, to save a man who suffered a severe cut during an assault.

In 2017, he was hailed as the hero of wild animals. The officer helped return a baby raccoon to the woods, and helped a skunk that got its head stuck in a peanut butter jar.

Officer Rolerson had been with the Rockland department since 2018.

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