Two former police officers in Maine have pleaded guilty to animal cruelty charges stemming from an incident in which they beat porcupines to death with their batons while on duty, Sagadahoc County District Attorney Natasha Irving told CNN.
Addison Cox and Michael Rolerson both pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of night hunting and one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty, Irving said.
Cox received a 90-day sentence, with all but 10 days suspended for the animal cruelty charge, and seven days for the night hunting charge, which will be served concurrently. Cox will also have to pay a fine, complete community service and receive treatment for PTSD, Irving said.
Rolerson was sentenced to 270 days in jail, with all but 20 days suspended, and seven days for the night hunting charge, which will also be served concurrently. He will also pay a fine, perform community service and undergo treatment for PTSD, according to Irving.
CNN has reached out to Cox and Rolerson’s attorneys but has not yet received a response.
CNN has previously reported that both officers were fired from the Rockland Police Department following a criminal and internal investigation into allegations against them.
The incidents took place in early June 2020 but were not reported until late August by another Rockland police officer, The Courier Gazette reported.
Police Chief Chris Young confirmed the termination of two officers in a statement on Facebook but would not divulge their identities or any details, citing state law relating to employee discipline. Young declined to comment to CNN.
A third officer was placed on administrative leave for allegedly filming a video of Rolerson killing a porcupine, The Courier Gazette reported in October.
The animal cruelty charges against Cox and Rolerson were dropped to misdemeanors because the men appear to be suffering from PTSD, according to Irving. Both Cox and Rolerson are combat veterans.
“Our belief from the investigation is they seem to be having PTSD symptoms,” she said. “We want these guys to get the treatment they need.”
Rolerson estimated that he killed eight porcupines while Cox said he killed three in the report compiled by the Bureau of Warden Services, according to The Courier Gazette.
Both men “took responsibility” for their actions, Irving added. After their release, the goal is to get them the treatment they need so “they don’t act cruelly to any animals ever in their lifetime.”
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