Officers Plead Guilty to Torture of Black Men
By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Sr Natl Correspondent
Six ex-law enforcement officers from Mississippi have admitted guilt for their participation in the torture and abuse of two Black men earlier this year.
Five former deputies from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office and one former officer from the Richland Police Department have admitted to federal charges related to a racially motivated attack that occurred in January.
Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke, and Joshua Hartfield, who are all white, have admitted to conspiring to obstruct justice.
Also, Dedmon faced charges of home invasion, while prosecutors charged Elward with both home invasion and aggravated assault.
McAlpin, Middleton, Opdyke, and Hartfield each bore an extra charge of first-degree obstruction of justice.
The former officers appeared in Rankin County court on Monday, Aug. 14, clad in prison jumpsuits and wrist shackles.
The names of the county jails where they are incarcerated were concealed by duct tape.
Prosecutors said the ex-officers, who called themselves “the goon squad,” barged into a home in Braxton, Mississippi, without a warrant.
They subjected the Black men inside for two harrowing hours to unspeakable violence.
The 13 felony charges included torture and physical abuse.
Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker filed a federal lawsuit in June, alleging that the officers forcibly entered their home, handcuffed, kicked, waterboarded, and repeatedly tasered them.
Their claims also include an attempted sexual assault, and how the officers poured liquids on them and forced them to shower to erase evidence.
One of the officers placed a gun in a victim’s mouth and fired, severally injuring him.
Throughout the brutal assault, Jenkins and Parker said the officers used racial slurs, including “monkeys” and the n-word.
“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.”
Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby of the FBI Jackson Field Office said citizens deserve credible law enforcement to safeguard the community from crime.
“The actions of these deputies and the officer significantly deprived the citizens of that protection and eroded the trust earned each day by honest law enforcement officers throughout the nation,” Fomby insisted.
“The FBI is committed to aggressively investigating those who misuse their authority, violate the color of law, or inject biases in the execution of their duties.”
Further, without a relationship of trust between law enforcement officers and those they swear to serve and protect, the fight for justice and against crime is doom to fail, added Mississippi State Attorney General Lynn Fitch.
“This brutal attack caused more than physical harm to these two individual victims, it severed that vital trust with the people,” Fitch asserted.
“This abuse of power will not be tolerated. The Attorney General’s Office is committed to delivering justice for these victims and all Mississippians, and we are grateful for this strong partnership we have with our U.S. Attorney’s Offices and FBI Field Office. Working together, it is my hope that we can help these victims heal and restore confidence in our criminal justice system.”