Two Maine police officers have been fired and now face criminal charges after being accused of beating porcupines to death with their batons. The state's Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says that 27-year-old Addison Cox and 30-year-old Michael Rolerson, now formerly of the Rockland Police Department, were hit with felony animal cruelty charges Friday after videos emerged showing them committing the alleged crime, per the New York Post. Police say the two used retractable batons to pummel the porcupines while a third officer recorded them, then posted the video to internal police Snapchat groups, WGME reports. Authorities say Rolerson admitted to pepper-spraying one of the animals before he beat it. "These porcupines were in their natural habitat and causing no harm," an Aug. 29 statement from fellow officer Anne Griffith to her supervisor noted, per the Courier Gazette.
"Officer Rolerson not only chased the animal in the woods to kill it, but returned with a smile on his face and appeared as though he enjoyed it. I am sickened and embarrassed by [these] actions," she added. Rockland Police Chief Chris Young says he got wind of the allegations in late August and put Cox and Rolerson on administrative leave while the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office investigated, the Bangor Daily News reports. Both officers were terminated on Sept. 22. In 2017, Cox had been hailed as a wildlife hero for helping a baby raccoon and a skunk in distress. "A tremendous amount of power is given to those who wear a badge and are tasked with protecting their communities; it's a power that I do not take lightly," Young said in a Sept. 30 Facebook post. The Daily News reports both men, who also face charges of hunting at night, are set to appear in court on Nov. 9. (Read more animal cruelty stories.)