We’re not saying you have to like them, but inhumanely harming porcupines, or any animal for that matter, is a punishable crime. If anyone should know that, it would be police officers. However, two Maine police officers brutally beat several porcupines on duty last October. They received their sentencing in court today.
While the creatures have a full set of sharp quills lining their backs, they pose no immediate threat to humans. Until provoked, their quills lay flat. Porcupines also rarely interact with people, spending most of their time in trees chewing on bark and branches. So, unless the two officers were spending their evening duty climbing trees, the porcupines were probably docile.
According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, former officers Addison Cox, 27, and Michael Rolerson, 30, beat several porcupines to death using their batons. Rolerson later admitted pepper-spraying one of the animals after beating it. A third officer filmed the vicious incident and posted videos to Snapchat.
Former Maine Police Officers Charged With Animal Cruelty and Hunting Violations
When the former Maine police officers appeared in court, they didn’t have much evidence on their side to justify the brutal beatings. On top of animal cruelty, Cox and Rolerson faced hunting violations, including hunting at night, illuminating animals and unlawful use or possession of implements or aids.
Translation: They used unlawful aids (batons and pepper spray), shined their flashlights on porcupines and illegally hunted them.
Of course, the court as well as the dismissed officers knew well that the intention was for a disturbing thrill rather than respectable hunting. But if the shoe fits…
The Maine police officers pled guilty to the animal cruelty charges. The prosecution likely dropped the hunting violations in exchange for a plea deal. Still, Rolerson, the senior officer, received a sentence of 270 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and a community service mandate. Cox received 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and six months probation. The Rockland police department fired the officers prior to their convictions.
In an effort to explain his actions, Cox told the court that he killed the porcupines because he idolized Rolerson and wanted to be like him. However, that defense offers little sympathy.
When Police Chief Chris Young found out about his officers’ conduct, he responded promptly and directly.
“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 Facebook post.
“I’m asking you to trust that, if there were an allegation of police misconduct, I would take it very seriously and any investigation would be conducted appropriately, always placing public safety and community trust at the forefront,” Young wrote.