Two US police officers were fired and charged with animal cruelty after they were allegedly filmed beating multiple porcupines to death using their retractable batons while they were on duty. A third officer, who filmed and shared a video of the incident on photo-sharing app Snapchat, has been placed on administrative leave, CNN reported.
The police officers, Addison Cox and Michael Rolerson, were dismissed from the Rockland Police Department in Maine on September 22 after an internal and criminal investigation. On October 2 there were both charged with Class C aggravated animal cruelty and a misdemeanour count of night hunting, according to The Courier Gazette.
While speaking to an investigator, the two former officers admitted to killing several porcupines but expressed regret over the incidents. Rolerson had allegedly told his colleagues that he would sometimes use pepper spray on the porcupines, either before or after he attacked them, The Courier Gazette reported.
While the men killed an estimated 11 porcupines in the month of June, another Rockland police officer reported them only in late August.
Rockland Police Chief Chris Young confirmed their termination in a Facebook post but did not disclose details about the accused or the allegations against them. “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,” he wrote.
“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,” he added.
The criminal investigation was carried out by the Maine Bureau of Warden Services, which is responsible for law enforcement related to wildlife and fishery in the US state, according to a court complaint filed by the district attorney’s office.
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