On Monday, six white ex-police officers in Mississippi pleaded guilty to state charges related to a home raid in which they allegedly beat and tortured two Black males. Former policemen have pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges related to an incident on January 24 in which one of the victims was allegedly shot in the mouth and another had a sex item pushed into his mouth, prosecutors say.
Prosecutors claim that after the assault, the officers attempted to cover it up by destroying evidence and planting a gun at the site. “Today, a strong message has been sent: Abuse of power will not be tolerated in Mississippi,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in a statement on Monday.
She expressed gratitude to local, state, and federal authorities for their efforts to bring “justice for the two victims of this brutal attack.” According to court filings, the ex-officers pled guilty in Brandon, Mississippi state court to charges including home invasion, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to delay a prosecution.
The tweet below verifies the news:
Six White former Mississippi law enforcement officers pleaded guilty to state charges Monday for physically and verbally abusing two Black men in a blatant racist attack in January that included a 90-minute torture session, in a case that has sparked outrage over police brutality… pic.twitter.com/GL3sXWDO8M
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 14, 2023
Hunter Elward, one of the ex-police officers, pled guilty to aggravated assault for his role in the shooting of one of the Black men. State prosecutors sought prison terms of at least 15 years for Mr. Elward and between 5 and 10 years for the other accused. The federal penalties are likely to be harsher, but the prosecutors suggested the police might serve their state sentences at the same time.
When the ex-officers are sentenced in November for the federal civil rights breaches, they face a wide range of possible punishments, including life in prison for some. The federal penalties are likely to be harsher, but the prosecutors suggested the police might serve their state sentences at the same time.
When the ex-officers are sentenced in November for the federal civil rights breaches, they face a wide range of possible punishments, including life in prison for some. Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker, two Black males, filed a federal lawsuit against the six cops in charge of the January house raid in which they said they were tortured and abused for about two hours because of their race.
According to federal authorities, Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker were living at a ranch-style property near Braxton, Mississippi, which belonged to a longtime friend of Mr. Parker’s. A neighbor called Rankin County Sheriff’s Deputy Brett McAlpin on January 24 to report that “several” Black guys were staying at the house and acting oddly.
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Mr. Elward, 31, Christian Dedmon, 28, Jeffrey Middleton, 46, and Daniel Opdyke, 27, all of whom were Rankin County sheriff’s deputies, and Joshua Hartfield, 31, a police officer in Richland, Miss., were present during Mr. McAlpin’s warrantless raid of the home that night. The city of Richland is located close to Jackson, the state capital of Mississippi.
According to a federal lawsuit, three of the ex-officers, Mr. Middleton, Mr. Elward, and Mr. Opdyke, referred to themselves as “the goon squad” due to their “willingness to use excessive force and not to report it.” A federal complaint states that police entered the home and immediately located and arrested Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker.
The victims were allegedly subjected to racial remarks, stun guns, beatings with kitchen implements and a metal sword, and the application of milk, alcohol, and chocolate syrup on their faces, all of which are detailed in the complaint. A “mock execution” attempt was made when Mr. Elward allegedly placed an unloaded gun into Mr. Jenkins’ mouth and pressed the trigger.
In an apparent attempt to “dry-fire” the weapon again, Mr. Elward racked the slide, as detailed in the complaint. Prosecutors claim that Mr. Jenkins had his jaw broken and his tongue sliced when the suspect reloaded and fired a bullet into his neck. The complaint also alleges that Mr. Opdyke tried to jam a sex toy affixed to the end of a BB gun into the mouths of both Mr. Parker and Mr. Jenkins.
According to the lawsuit, cops placed Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker in handcuffs and repeatedly zapped them with stun guns. A kick to the ribs was delivered to Mr. Parker. According to the complaint, Mr. Dedmon “demanded to know where the drugs were” and then fired a shot into the back of the house. According to Mr. Parker’s response, there are no medicines.
Prosecutors claim that after the incident, the officers attempted to cover it up. They allegedly destroyed surveillance footage, shell casings, and Taser cartridges, and planted a gun on Mr. Jenkins, according to the Justice Department. In June, we learned that five deputies in Rankin County, Mississippi, had either resigned or been terminated from their positions.
Mr. Hartfield’s resignation was announced in a Facebook post by the Richland Police Department in July. On Monday, neither the Sheriff’s Office nor the Police Department responded quickly to requests for comment.
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On August 3, the six police officers charged with civil rights conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, discharging a handgun during a violent crime, and obstruction of justice entered guilty pleas. State charges for home invasion and aggravated violence were also announced that day by Mississippi’s attorney general, Ms. Fitch, against the officers.
These accusations were similar to those filed by the federal government. On Monday, Mr. Opdyke’s attorney, Jeff Reynolds, claimed that his client accepted responsibility for his acts. “He admits he was wrong for his part in the horrific harms inflicted upon Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker, the victims, that night last January and is prepared to face the consequences of his actions,” Mr. Reynolds said in an email.
Monday afternoon’s requests for comment from the other defendants’ attorneys went unanswered. In an email, Mr. Parker and Mr. Jenkins’ attorney Malik Shabazz called the guilty pleas on Monday “historic.” They represented, he said, “the first time in Mississippi history that a White law enforcement officer has ever been held criminally accountable for police misconduct against a Black person.”
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