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Rankin County, Mississippi deputies plead guilty to torturing two Black men

FILE - Michael Corey Jenkins stands outside Taylor Hill Church in Braxton, Miss., March 18, 2023. Six former law enforcement officers in Mississippi have been charged with federal civil rights offenses against two Black men who were brutalized for more than an hour during a home raid before an officer allegedly shot one of the men in the mouth. The charges were unsealed Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023, as the former officers, all of whom are white, appeared in federal court. (AP Photo/HG Biggs, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (WISH) — Six former sheriff’s deputies in Mississippi are facing state and federal charges related to torturing two Black men for over 90 minutes in January.

The Department of Justice said in a release Wednesday the deputies entered a home in Braxton, Mississippi, in Rankin County, without a warrant. The two men, Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker, were then handcuffed and arrested without probable cause.

“(The officers) called them racial slurs and warned them to stay out of Rankin County,” the DOJ said in a news release.

Five of the officers worked for the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office.

  • Chief Investigator Brett McAlpin, 52
  • Narcotics Investigator Christian Dedmon, 28
  • Lieutenant Jeffrey Middleton, 46
  • Deputy Hunter Elward, 31
  • Deputy Daniel Opdyke, 27

A sixth officer, Narcotics Investigator Joshua Hartfield, 31, was a former member of the Richland, Mississippi, Police Department.

All six men pleaded guilty to the charges against them.

Court documents indicate the officers initially went to the home because a white neighbor complained about Jenkins and Parker staying in the home owned by a white woman.

The release from the Justice Department describes the torture the officers put the men through.

Further, the defendants punched and kicked the men, tased them 17 times, forced them to ingest liquids, and assaulted them with a (sex toy). During the incident, Dedmon fired his gun twice to intimidate the men.

At the conclusion of the incident, (Dep.) Elward surreptitiously removed a bullet from the chamber of his gun, forced the gun into (Jenkins’) mouth and pulled the trigger.

As (Jenkins) was bleeding on the floor, the defendants did not provide medical aid, but instead gathered outside the home to devise a false cover story and took steps to corroborate it, including:

Planting a gun on (Jenkins); destroying surveillance video, spent shell casings, and taser cartridges; submitting fraudulent drug evidence to the crime lab; filing false reports; charging (Jenkins) with crimes he did not commit; making false statements to investigators; and pressuring witnesses to stick to the cover story.

The Department of Justice

Jenkins was charged with assaulting an officer and drug possession. Parker had been charged with possession of paraphernalia and disorderly conduct, but the charges have been dropped. 

Court documents say three of the officers admitted in court that they were members of “The Goon Squad,” a group of Rankin County Sheriff’s officers who were known for using excessive force and not reporting it.

“These former law enforcement officers have committed heinous and wanton acts of violence disgracing the badge which so many others have worn with pride and honor,” said U.S. Attorney Darren J. LaMarca for the Southern District of Mississippi. “They violated their oaths and have become the criminals they were sworn to protect us from.”

Malik Shabazz, an attorney representing Jenkins and Parker, thanked the Justice Department in a statement Thursday from Black Lawyers for Justice. 

“These guilty pleas are historic for justice against rogue police torture in Rankin County and all over America,” Shabazz said. “Today is truly historic for Mississippi and for civil and human rights in America.”

The six men will be sentenced in November. They face a combined 590 years in prison and $8.5 million in fines.