Two Maine police officers are set to serve jail time after pleading guilty to charges of animal cruelty over several instances of beating porcupines to death while on duty.
According to court documents filed in Knox Superior Court, officers Addison Cox and Michael Rolerson admitted to killing porcupines with their retractable batons multiple times last fall.
Prosecutors noted that Rolerson, 31, said he likely killed eight porcupines, while Cox, 28, admitted to killing three.
A Maine Warden Service report obtained by the Courier Gazette in late August revealed that another officer had reported the killings to supervisors, with both Cox and Rolerson eventually fired from the force in September.
The two officers were sentenced Thursday on misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals and night hunting.
The Bangor Daily News reported that Cox initially received a sentence of 90 days in jail and Rolerson got 270 days, though prosecutors significantly downgraded the punishments in part because of the defendants' status as veterans who previously served on active duty.
According to the local news outlet, both Rolerson and Cox served in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan, and Rolerson previously told authorities that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in the military.
Now, Cox is set to serve just 10 days in jail, with Rolerson sentenced to 20. Both officers were also fined $1,000 and placed on probation for six months.
Rolerson also reportedly told investigators that he believed porcupines were a disturbance to the community, with Cox saying that he followed the lead of his superior.
Local District Attorney Natasha Irving, who prosecuted the case, said that the fact that the two officers had “both experienced war zones” was “a mitigating factor,” according to the Bangor Daily News.
“Ultimately I want them never to hurt another living thing again,” she added. “I think that addressing the mental health component, I think that’s a really important part of it.”
The local outlet reported that both officers are receiving mental health treatment through the Veterans Health Administration.