Six former Mississippi law enforcement officers to be sentenced for torturing two black men

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JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Six former Mississippi law enforcement officers who pleaded guilty to a long list of state and federal charges for torturing two black men will be sentenced by a federal judge starting Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Tom Lee will sentence two defendants each day on subsequent Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. delaying twice the procedures. Each faces the potential of spending decades behind bars.

The former law enforcement officers admitted in August to subjecting Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker to numerous acts of Violent and racially motivated torture.. In a January 2023 episode, the group of six broke into a Rankin County home without a warrant and assaulted Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Parker with stun guns, a sex toy, and other objects.

The terror began on January 24, 2023, with a racist call for extrajudicial violence.

A white caller called Rankin County Deputy Brett McAlpin and complained that two black men were staying with a white woman at a home in Braxton, Mississippi. McAlpin told Deputy Christian Dedmon, who texted a group of white officers so willing to use excessive force that they called themselves “The Goon Squad.”

Once inside, they handcuffed Jenkins and his friend Eddie Terrell Parker and poured milk, alcohol and chocolate syrup in their faces. They were forced to undress and shower together to hide the mess. They taunted the victims with racial slurs and electrocuted them with stun guns.

After a mock execution went wrong when Jenkins was shot in the mouth, they devised a cover-up that included planting drugs and a gun. False charges were brought against Jenkins and Parker for months.

Before sentencing, Jenkins and Parker called for “the harshest sentences” at a news conference Monday.

“It’s been very difficult for me and for us,” Jenkins said. “We hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

Jenkins suffered a laceration to his tongue and a broken jaw. He still has trouble speaking and eating.

Malik Shabazz, a lawyer representing both men, said the outcome of the sentencing hearings could have national implications.

“Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker continue to suffer emotionally and physically since this horrific and bloody attack by Rankin County deputies,” Shabazz said. “A message should be sent to police in Mississippi and across the United States: that level of criminal conduct will face the harshest consequences.”

Months before federal prosecutors announced the charges in August 2023, a Associated Press investigation linked some of the officers to at least four violent encounters with Black men since 2019 that left two dead and another with lasting injuries.

The charged officers include McAlpin, Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department and Joshua Hartfield, a Richland police officer. They pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy against rights, obstruction of justice, deprivation of rights under color of law, discharge of a firearm under a crime of violence and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Most of his attorneys did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment Monday. Jason Kirschberg, representing Opdyke, said: “Daniel has accepted responsibility for his actions and for his inactions. …he has admitted that he was wrong and feels deep remorse for the pain he caused the victims.”

For the federal charges, Dedmon and Elward each face a maximum sentence of 120 years plus life in prison and fines of $2.75 million. Hartfield faces a possible sentence of 80 years and $1.5 million, McAlpin faces 90 years and $1.75 million, Middleton faces 80 years and $1.5 million, and Opdyke could be sentenced to 100 years with a fine of 2 million dollars.

The former officers accepted prosecutor-recommended sentences ranging from five to 30 years in state court, but time served for separate sentences at the state level will run concurrently with the potentially longer federal sentences.

Majority-white Rankin County is just east of the state capital, Jackson, and is home to one of the highest percentages of black residents of any major U.S. city.

Deputies warned Jenkins and Parker to “stay out of Rankin County and return to Jackson or ‘your side’ of the Pearl River,” court documents say, referring to an area with higher concentrations of black residents.

In the horrendous crimes committed by law enforcement men, federal prosecutors saw echoes of Mississippi’s dark history, including the 1964 murder of three civil rights workers after a deputy turned them over to the Ku Klux Klan.

For months, Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey, whose deputies committed the crimes, said little about the episode. After the officers pleaded guilty In August, Bailey said officers had gone rogue and vowed to change the department. Jenkins and Parker called for his resignation and filed a $400 million lawsuit. civil lawsuit against the department.


Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. follow him on @mikergoldberg.

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