In Defense of Animals is condemning the sentencing of former Rockland Police Officers Mike Rolerson and Addison Cox, who beat porcupines to death with retractable batons while on duty last June.
Both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals and night hunting.
Cox was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with all but 10 days suspended. Rolerson was sentenced to 270 days in jail, with all but 20 days suspended. Both were also fined $1,000 each.
More than 10,000 people signed a letter from In Defense of Animals calling for the maximum penalties for these former officers.
We are deeply disappointed at the pathetic sentences given to these two officers who abused their power, broke the law, and committed shocking animal abuse.
Cruelty to animals by any person is offensive, but seeing it inflicted by law enforcement officers who are charged with protecting our communities while they’re on duty is just beyond words. We’re grateful for their brave colleagues who brought this to light and who investigated the allegations that were made, and to 10,000 In Defense of Animals supporters who called for accountability.
The Courier-Gazette initially reported that a video had been posted to Snapchat showing Rolerson swinging his baton at something on the ground. He then returns to his police vehicle and says 'I got him.' After that, a photo of a dead porcupine was posted.
One unnamed officer said that Rolerson would pull to the side of the road to beat porcupines and bragged about pepper spraying them before or after the beatings. One porcupine was found alive and twitching at the side of the road seven hours later.
On October 2, 2020, Officers Cox and Rolerson admitted to the crimes and were charged with aggravated felony animal cruelty under Maine Legislature Statute, Title 17, law§1031,and illuminating wild animals or birds, a misdemeanor. Kenneth Smith, the third officer who videoed the crimes and posted them on Snapchat, was placed on administrative leave.
Kevin Anderson, Game Warden Investigator for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, initially handled the crime. Lincoln County Detective Ron Rollins handled the Rockland Police Department’s internal investigation which ultimately fired Rolerson and Cox. The former officers are fighting their dismissal.
District VI Sagadahoc Assistant District Attorney Michael Dumas prosecuted the case arguing that the men“did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause extreme physical pain to an animal; cause the death of an animal; or physically torture an animal.”
In Defense of Animals is committed to seeing justice for animals who are cruelly treated. There is no defying statistics that humans who are gratified by intentionally harming animals are dangerous. Law enforcement officers especially must be held to the highest standard of compassion and ethics if they are to be trusted to represent and uphold justice.
Doll Stanley is Justice for Animals Director, with In Defense of Animals, an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 38-year history of fighting for animals, people, and the environment through education and campaigns as well as hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, and rural Mississippi. www.idausa.org/justice4animals