Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
6 Former Mississippi Law Officers Sentenced in State Court for Torture of 2 Black Men
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
April 10, 2024

The Mississippi sentences bring closure to the families and mark a significant step in addressing racial crimes and police brutality in the state.(AP/Rogelio V. Solis)

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

BRANDON, Miss. — Already sentenced to many years in federal prison, six white former Mississippi law enforcement officers who pleaded guilty to a long list of state and federal charges for torturing two Black men were sentenced Wednesday in state court.

The state sentences did not add time to the federal prison terms the defendants had already received, but the victims’ supporters hailed the yearslong sentences, saying they took on unique importance in Mississippi, where local residents saw echoes of the state’s history of racist atrocities by people in authority.

The six former officers who attacked Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker in January 2023 were sentenced last month to federal prison terms ranging from about 10 to 40 years. U.S. District Judge Tom Lee called their actions “egregious and despicable” as he gave sentences near the top of the federal guidelines to five of the six men.

Rankin County Circuit Judge Steve Ratcliff on Wednesday gave the men yearslong state sentences that were shorter than the amount of time in federal prison they had already received, but longer than what state prosecutors had recommended. Time served for the state convictions will run concurrently, or at the same time, as the federal sentences, and the men will serve their time in federal penitentiaries.

Victims’ Attorney Celebrates Accountability

After the hearing, Malik Shabazz, an attorney representing Jenkins and Parker, celebrated that the former law officers were held accountable in the same courthouse where they had testified against people.

“They all had to come and appear in a courtroom where they have created much mischief,” Shabazz said. “In this courtroom and in this courthouse, they have been given credibility to their statements. But today was dramatically different. Today, the judge in this circuit county court has given out justice.”

Shabazz had said the state criminal sentencing is important because “historically, the state of Mississippi has lagged behind or ignored racial crimes and police brutality against Blacks.” He applauded Ratcliff’s decision to reject state prosecutors’ recommendations for shorter sentences on the state charges.

Michelle Williams, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, said the sentences handed down Wednesday were consistent with the plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors.

In a written statement, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said the former officers’ crimes did grave harm to the victims and violated the trust of citizens they were supposed to protect.

“These criminal acts make a difficult job even harder and far more dangerous,” Fitch said. “And it is left to us all to commit ourselves to repairing that damage.”

Details of the Defendants and Their Crimes

The defendants include five former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies — Brett McAlpin, 53; Hunter Elward, 31; Christian Dedmon, 29; Jeffrey Middleton, 46; and Daniel Opdyke, 28 — and a former police officer from the city of Richland, Joshua Hartfield, 32, who was off duty during the assault.

All six of the former officers pleaded guilty to state charges of conspiracy to hinder prosecution. They were sentenced on multiple counts ranging from five to 20 years. Elward admitted to aggravated assault, and was sentenced to 20 years alongside punishments for burglary and conspiracy.

The charges followed an Associated Press investigation in March 2023 that linked some of the officers to at least four violent encounters since 2019 that left two Black men dead.

The terror began on Jan. 24, 2023, with a racist call for extrajudicial violence, according to federal prosecutors.

A white person phoned McAlpin and complained that two Black men were staying with a white woman at a house in Braxton, Mississippi. McAlpin told Dedmon, who texted a group of white deputies so willing to use excessive force they called themselves “The Goon Squad.”

Once inside, they handcuffed Jenkins and his friend Parker and poured milk, alcohol and chocolate syrup over their faces while mocking them with racial slurs. They forced them to strip naked and shower together to conceal the mess. They mocked the victims with racial slurs and assaulted them with sex objects.

In a mock execution gone awry, Elward shot Jenkins in the mouth, lacerating his tongue and breaking his jaw. The officers devised a coverup and agreed to plant drugs on Jenkins and Parker. False charges stood against the men for months.

McAlpin and Middleton, the oldest in the group, threatened to kill other officers if they spoke up, prosecutors said.

The only defendant who didn’t receive a federal prison term at the top of the sentencing guidelines was Hartfield, who did not work in a sheriff’s department with the others and was not a member of the “Goon Squad.”

In federal court, the deputies expressed remorse for their behavior and apologized to Jenkins and Parker. Several of their attorneys said their clients became ensnared in a culture of corruption that was encouraged by leaders in the sheriff’s office.

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey revealed no details about his deputies’ actions when he announced they had been fired last June. After they pleaded guilty in August, Bailey said the officers had gone rogue and promised changes. Jenkins and Parker have called for his resignation and filed a $400 million civil lawsuit against the department.

In statements read by their attorneys in court Wednesday, Jenkins and Parker said their ordeal had been ingrained in their bodies and minds.

“Your honor, they killed me. I just didn’t die,” Jenkins said.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

DON'T MISS

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

DON'T MISS

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

DON'T MISS

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

DON'T MISS

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

DON'T MISS

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

DON'T MISS

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

DON'T MISS

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Teaching Bomb-Making to Person Targeting Authorities

DON'T MISS

UCLA Police Arrest Young Man for Alleged Felony Assault in Attack on Pro-Palestinian Encampment

DON'T MISS

UAW Files Objection to Mercedes Vote, Accuses Company of Intimidating Workers

UP NEXT

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

UP NEXT

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

UP NEXT

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

UP NEXT

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

UP NEXT

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

UP NEXT

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

UP NEXT

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Teaching Bomb-Making to Person Targeting Authorities

UP NEXT

UCLA Police Arrest Young Man for Alleged Felony Assault in Attack on Pro-Palestinian Encampment

UP NEXT

UAW Files Objection to Mercedes Vote, Accuses Company of Intimidating Workers

UP NEXT

Fresno County Fruit Trail: Rewards You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

17 hours ago

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

17 hours ago

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

18 hours ago

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

19 hours ago

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Teaching Bomb-Making to Person Targeting Authorities

19 hours ago

UCLA Police Arrest Young Man for Alleged Felony Assault in Attack on Pro-Palestinian Encampment

19 hours ago

UAW Files Objection to Mercedes Vote, Accuses Company of Intimidating Workers

19 hours ago

Fresno County Fruit Trail: Rewards You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

19 hours ago

Rising Stars Tigirlily Gold Wows the Crowd at 93.7 KISS Country Concert

19 hours ago

Get Ready for the Indy 500 With This Look at Parnelli Jones, JC Agajanian & the Willard Battery Special

20 hours ago

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

The California Senate has unanimously passed SB 1432, a bill introduced by Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Merced) to provide a transparent and accou...

3 hours ago

3 hours ago

CA Senate Passes Hospital Seismic Compliance Bill: What’s the Impact on Local Hospitals?

5 hours ago

Take This Memorial Day Quiz Before Warming up the Grill

5 hours ago

Hate Wasting Money? Use These 7 Hacks to Feed Your Family for Less

17 hours ago

NCAA and Leagues Back $2.8 Billion Settlement, Setting Stage for Current, Former Athletes to Be Paid

17 hours ago

UC Berkeley Faces a Summer of Discontent as Gaza Protesters Remain Steadfast

18 hours ago

Newsom Promised 1,200 Tiny Homes for Homeless Californians. How Many Are Being Used?

19 hours ago

Fresno Unified Unveils 5-Year Literacy Plan. What Are the Expectations?

19 hours ago

Man Sentenced to 25 Years for Teaching Bomb-Making to Person Targeting Authorities

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend