ROCKLAND — Two Rockland patrol officers who were terminated as department employees Sept. 22 have been charged with felony animal cruelty.
Addison Cox, 27, of Warren, and Michael A. Rolerson, 30, of Searsmont, are both charged with Class C aggravated cruelty to animals and a misdemeanor count of night hunting.
Cox is additionally charged with a misdemeanor for unlawful use or possession of implements or aids. Rolerson is also charged with a misdemeanor for illuminating wild animals or birds.
According to the criminal complaints filed in Knox County Court, the incidents occurred on Bog Road in Rockland around 11 p.m. No date is listed on the complaint.
The complaint does not include the specific details of the alleged abuse but states 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.”
Night hunting is described in the complaint as hunting a wild bird or animal from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise the following day.
Game Warden Kevin Anderson of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife issued the summonses. Both officers were served on Oct. 2.
Rockland Police Chief Chris Young, issued a statement regarding the terminations on September 30 on the department’s Facebook page. Young said allegations against the officers were brought forward on Aug. 28.
“Within 24 hours of being aware of the allegations the officers were placed on administration leave pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation. On September 22, the officers were terminated from employment with the City of Rockland,” he said.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office conducted the internal affairs investigation and the Maine Warden Service conducted the criminal investigation.
District Attorney Natasha Irving assigned prosecutor Assistant District Attorney Michael Dumas of Sagadahoc County to review the case for charges.
Rockland City Manager Tom Luttrell confirmed by email Oct. 1 that a teamster representative has filed a grievance with the city, on behalf of the two officers, for wrongful termination. Luttrell said that the grievance timeframe is hard to determine at this point in time.
Cox, a native of Maine and the son of a police officer, joined the Rockland Police Department in April 2016. Prior to joining the Rockland Police Department, he was on active duty with the United State Marine Corps from 2012 to 2016. He served in Romania and Afghanistan and was honorably discharged following his four-year enlistment, with awards including the USMC’s Good Conduct Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.
While he served as a Rockland officer, Cox was recognized by the department and state for his bravery and service. In February 2019, he received the “Life Saving Award” from the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. He was recognized for his actions on Jan. 31, 2018, when he used his issued tourniquet kit to stop the bleeding from a cut artery in a man’s arm after he was assaulted. Both Rockland EMS and Penobscot Bay Medical Center personnel credited his quick actions as significant in saving the man’s life.
Cox was also awarded the Silver Star for Bravery Award at the National Awards Program of the American Police Hall of Fame for an incident that occurred on Feb. 12, 2018, when he responded to an apartment fire on Rankin Street and removed several residents from the burning building.
In August 2018, he suffered a broken bone in his left hand while he was arresting a man accused of making threatening statements to a woman.
He was given the nickname, the “racoon whisperer” and described as an “avid outdoorsman” by the department in July 2017 for aiding a baby racoon, located in a residential backyard, who was separated from his mother.
Rolerson began working with the department on Oct. 30, 2017. he was born and raised in Belfast. After he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving in the Pacific and deploying to the Helmand province in Afghanistan.
He earned the USMC’s Good Conduct Medal among other awards.
Rolerson grew up in a family of law enforcement officers. His father retired in Sept. 2019 from the Belfast Police Department after 27 years of service as a patrol officer.
The officers are scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 9.
Sarah Shepherd can be reached at email@example.com