On the floor of a Mississippi home, Michael Corey Jenkins lay with blood pouring from his damaged tongue, where one of the police officers had put a gun into his mouth and fired the trigger. Huddled on the back porch, these men had sworn an oath to guard and serve.
During the 90 minutes of misery that Jenkins endured, six white officers committed scores of shocking acts of cruelty on him and another Black victim, and as he writhed in pain, they plotted a way to cover it all up.
Police officers smuggled in drugs. In this case, they burgled a property and took surveillance film. They made an effort to hide or destroy other proof. They came to an agreement on a series of fibs that would cause even more chaos in their victims’ lives.
They sneaked in without a warrant and began the physical, s*xual, and mental assault, being careful to avoid any surveillance cameras in the residence. Jenkins and his companion Eddie Terrell Parker were taken into custody and had milk, wine, and chocolate syrup poured over their faces while they were shackled. To cover up the chaos, they made them undress and take a group shower.
The following tweet confirms the report that six white ex-Mississippi police officers were keeping something from the public:
Six white former Mississippi law enforcement officers kept quiet for months as pressure mounted from a federal investigation of their racist torture of two Black men. https://t.co/F1MZhMWOzu
— The Associated Press (@AP) August 4, 2023
They used racial slurs in mockery of the victims. They used stun guns to incapacitate them. The officers’ original intent was to torment the detainees psychologically rather than physically. However, Jenkins took a bullet to the face. Jenkins’s survival was a complete miracle.
On Thursday, the six cops entered guilty pleas to many federal civil rights offenses. Following the incident, the Mississippi attorney general’s office revealed that state charges of assault, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice had been filed. Officers seldom face criminal charges for actions taken in the line of duty, and even more rarely admit guilt.
The Associated Press conducted an investigation that found connections between at least four incidents involving the deputies and Black individuals since the beginning of the year, including two fatalities and one permanent injury.
The law enforcement personnel were Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield and Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, and Daniel Opdyke. They pleaded guilty to multiple offenses, including obstruction of justice, discharging a firearm during a violent crime, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
On January 24, terror struck in the form of a racial demand for extrajudicial brutality that harkened back to a bygone period. A white neighbor called Deputy Brett McAlpin of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office to report that two black men were staying at a white woman’s house in Braxton.
McAlpin informed Deputy Christian Dedmon, who in turn texted a team of white deputies so ready to resort to excessive force that they dubbed themselves “The Goon Squad.” “Are you guys free to go on a mission?” Asked Dedmon. Indeed, they did.
Opdyke “admits he was wrong for his part in the horrific harms” and “is prepared to face the consequences of his actions,” according to a statement released by his lawyer, Jason Kirschberg. Vicki Gilliam, Hartfield’s lawyer, said that while her client “cannot change what he did, he has shown that he is ready to accept consequences.”
The other men’s attorneys declined to comment when contacted. Sheriff Bryan Bailey, who was in charge of the deputies at the time, said it was the worst case of police violence he had ever witnessed.
On Friday, black citizens voiced their outrage at the former police’ behavior, their appreciation to Jenkins and Parker for speaking out about their treatment, and their pleasure that the officers were being brought to justice.
“When the people that you expect to protect you are the people who are hurting and killing you, there just are no words to describe how it has affected the mindset, the mental state of our people,” said Angela English, president of the NAACP in the county. There has been a rise in the media’s focus on cases of police wrongdoing in the United States.
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Calls for major criminal justice reforms and a reevaluation of American race relations were sparked by the 2020 shooting of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Five Black members of a special police squad in Memphis, Tennessee, beat and killed Tyre Nichols in January, prompting a countrywide investigation into similar squads.
A group of rogue policemen “who tortured them all under the authority of a badge, which they disgraced,” as U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca put it, were responsible for the cruelty against Jenkins and Parker in Rankin County, not a bungled police operation.
Located to the east of the state capital, Jackson has one of the highest concentrations of African-Americans of any major U.S. city, yet the surrounding county is overwhelmingly white. Across the street from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office is a massive monument depicting a Confederate soldier at its peak.
You may read all about it in the federal court records. When they saw Jenkins lying on the ground, bleeding, they knew their “mission” had gone too far. They opted to cover up the situation with a fake drug bust and threats rather than come open.
Police allegedly told Jenkins and Parker to “stay out of Rankin County and go back to Jackson or ‘their side’ of the Pearl River,” according to court filings, referring to an area with a larger number of Black people.
The head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, said the trauma “is magnified because the misconduct was fueled by racial bias and hatred” that recalled a sheriff’s deputy’s involvement in one of Mississippi’s most infamous crimes, the 1964 kidnapping and killing of three civil rights workers by Ku Klux Klan members.
Dedmon called for “The Goon Squad,” and the cops sneaked around the ranch house’s perimeter. Without permission, they broke down the carport door and rushed inside. Opdyke located a s*x toy, attached it to a BB gun, and shoved it down Parker’s throat. Dedmon used the toy as a weapon in an attempt to s*xually assault Jenkins.
The police officers used stun guns on them to see who had the most powerful weapon. To perform a “mock execution,” Elward brought Jenkins to his knees and prepared to fire the gun empty. The bullet entered through Jenkins’ neck, slashed his tongue, and shattered his jaw.
Elward lured Jenkins into a side room to arrange a narcotics bust over the phone, and the officers stated Jenkins lunged for a gun when he was released from handcuffs, all while Jenkins lay bleeding on the floor. Elward decided to use the BB gun after Middleton volunteered to conceal an unlicensed firearm.
Dedmon, after receiving methamphetamine from an informant, consented to plant it. Jenkins was initially charged with a felony in Rankin County due to the methamphetamine. That idea was scrapped at a later time. Opdyke hid a shell casing from Elward in a water bottle and tossed it into the neighboring tall grass.
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After removing the hard drive from the surveillance system, Hartfield dumped it in a nearby creek. After the incident, McAlpin and Middleton vowed to eliminate any law enforcement officials who revealed the truth. As the Justice Department’s civil rights investigation heated up, the police remained silent. According to Sheriff Bailey, someone came forward in June.
On Thursday, Bailey said he had been misled and that he had discovered the truth by reading previously sealed court documents. Both McAlpin and Elward spent years working under Bailey and were often sued for alleged misbehavior during that time.
The deputies broke the law by not wearing body cameras at all times while in uniform. He claimed he was willing to have additional federal oversight and vowed that body cameras will be switched on with fewer exclusions. The officers, he said, were “criminals,” a term also used by federal prosecutors. U.S. Attorney LaMarca remarked, “Now, they’ll be treated as the criminals they are.”
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