Rockland, ME — In the study of psychology, there is a term for those who hurt animals for personal pleasure. It is called intentional animal torture and cruelty and even has its own initialism, IATC. Psychologists have long studied the reasons behind why a person would intentionally harm an animal and the types of people associated with this behavior are often society's worst. So, when two police officers beat porcupines to death with their batons, while another films it, it should certainly raise some red flags.
Last year, TFTP reported on two cops who filmed themselves beating porcupines to death and this week, they were finally held accountable — sort of. On Thursday, two former Rockland cops were sentenced to jail for beating a dozen porcupines to death with their batons while on duty.
While it is common knowledge that police officers kill dogs on a regularly basis, many folks don't realize that cops also kill lots of small animals in sadistic ways as well.
In October, two Rockland police officers were arrested for animal cruelty for torturing and beating several porcupines to death — for fun. The animal cruelty charges were also accompanied by multiple night hunting violations for how and when the animals were beaten to death.
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.
A third officer, Officer Kenneth Smith, was not charged nor fired despite filming the act and sharing it with other officers on Snapchat. According to the department, Smith is currently on administrative leave for another incident. According to the Village Soup, Smith is accused of posting a video of Rolerson killing a porcupine to Snapchat in June of 2020.
The felony charges were dropped and each officer was found guilty on misdemeanor animal cruelty and night hunting before promptly receiving their wrist slaps.
According to the Press Herald:
Rolerson was sentenced to 270 days in jail with all but 20 days suspended. He was also placed on probation for six months and fined $1,000.
Cox was sentenced to 90 days in jail with all but 10 days suspended. He was placed on administrative release for six months and fined $1,000.
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There were multiple officers in the Snapchat group, however, it appears that only one cop thought that beating innocent porcupines to death was horrific enough to report.
As the Village Soup reports:
One officer told the investigator that most of the photos posted on the Snapchat groups were of family and were done to boost morale, which fell since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
In early June, a video was posted of Rolerson using his baton and beating something on the ground, then returning to the cruiser saying, "I got him." A photo was then posted of a dead porcupine. Rolerson and another officer said Smith was the officer who posted the video.
Smith denied posting the video during an interview with the investigator but said he had posted many photos to the Snapchat groups. Once a Snapchat video is played it disappears.
Another officer told the investigators that at another time, he was in a cruiser with Rolerson on Bog Road in Rockland, when Rolerson suddenly slammed on the brakes, ran out of the cruiser, leaving the door open and beat a porcupine.
The fellow officer told the investigator he did not know what to do.
Rolerson told other officers he would sometimes pepper spray the porcupines before or after beating them.
Highlighting the problem of police protecting their own is the fact that the whistleblower officer, Anne Griffith, who came forward with the allegations, was alone in her stance. Not a single one of the other cops who witnessed the killing, watched the videos or knew about it, said a thing.
"Not only are these acts in violation of law and policy, they are also a disturbing representation of his character made known to his fellow officers, especially those who witnessed the events. Several of the officers, if not all, were lower in rank than Officer Rolerson.
"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 Officer 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," Officer Griffith stated at the time.
It wasn't just those two porcupines either, during the trial, Rolerson estimated he killed eight porcupines and Cox said he killed three.
According to Knox County District Attorney Natasha Irving, the officers got off with wrist slaps because they both served in the USMC and were combat veterans receiving care for PTSD in the VA. Superior Court Justice Bruce Mallonee also brought up the officers' service to the community as cops as a reason for the lax sentence.