ROCKLAND — Two former Rockland police officers were sentenced to jail Thursday for killing porcupines with their retractable batons several times while on duty.

Superior Court Justice Bruce Mallonee imposed the sentences on Michael A. Rolerson, 31, of Searsmont and Addison Cox, 28, of Warren, each on misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals and night hunting.

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.

During brief hearings in Knox County Superior Court, the former officers did not speak, other than to enter guilty pleas and acknowledge they understood their rights.

Felony charges of animal cruelty were dismissed.

Knox County District Attorney Natasha Irving said the felony counts were dismissed because Rolerson and Cox accepted responsibility for their actions. In addition, she said, both men served the United States honorably in the military and were combat veterans who are receiving care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Justice Mallonee also acknowledged that the two officers served their communities as officers.

Sagadahoc County Assistant District Attorney Michael Dumas, who was assigned to handle the case, said that Rolerson received a longer jail sentence because he was the senior officer and there were more incidents involving him than Cox.

Cox will serve his sentence on weekends. With good time, he should serve a total of seven days. Rolerson will begin his sentence in January.

Cox and Rolerson were fired Sept. 22, 2020, and were issued summonses for the criminal charges on Oct. 2.

Rolerson estimated he killed eight porcupines and Cox said he killed three, according to a report by the Maine Warden Service.

Rolerson told the investigator that it wasn’t that he disliked porcupines, but that they were rodents and were always getting into his camp and doing damage. He said porcupines were also nuisances on the road.

Rolerson also told the investigator he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving a tour in Afghanistan while in the Marine Corps.

Cox told the investigator that he looked up to Rolerson and was trying to be like him. Cox also served in Afghanistan while in the Marines.

Other officers who either witnessed the killing of the porcupines or were told about it said nothing until Aug. 28, when one of the officers spoke with Officer Anne Griffith, who had no knowledge of what had transpired. Griffith told the other officer that she was going to report the conduct and urged him to do the same, which he then did.

Rolerson was represented by attorney Stephen Smith. Cox was represented by attorney Bruce Merrill.

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