Former Mississippi officers expected to plead guilty to state charges for racist assault

by Madison Thomas
fokus keyword Mississippi officers

Six previous law enforcement officers in Mississippi are slated to enter guilty pleas to state charges on Monday related to a racial attack, in which they tortured two Black individuals. These pleas follow their recent admissions of guilt in a related federal civil rights case.

The accused officers, all of whom are white, referred to themselves as the “Goon Squad,” a name that reflected their readiness to apply excessive force and then conceal their actions. This includes an attack in which one of the victims was shot in the mouth.

The assault happened in January when the officers unlawfully entered a house and assaulted two men using stun guns, a sex toy, and other objects, all while taunting them with racial slurs. The officers further schemed a cover-up that consisted of planting drugs and a gun on one of the victims, which might have resulted in his imprisonment for many years.

The charges that the officers are expected to plead guilty to encompass home invasion, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to hinder prosecution, and aggravated assault for the one who pulled the trigger.

According to court documents, individual plea deals have been arranged, including prison terms that range from five to thirty years. The sentences for these state charges will coincide with the sentences they are due to receive in federal court come November.

The accused individuals include five ex-Rankin County sheriff’s deputies named Brett McAlpin, Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Jeffrey Middleton, and Daniel Opdyke, plus Joshua Hartfield, a police officer from Richland city.

During the incident, Elward confessed to forcing a gun into Jenkins’s mouth and pulling the trigger in a “mock execution” that went horribly wrong.

Local residents have expressed concerns over a police culture in Rankin County that seemingly grants officers unchecked power to misuse their authority.

The criminal charges were brought after The Big Big News connected some of the officers to at least four violent confrontations with Black men since 2019. Two of these confrontations ended in death, while another resulted in long-term injuries. The Justice Department subsequently launched a probe in February.

The two victims, identified as Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker, were targeted following a complaint from a white neighbor about two Black men staying at the home with a white woman.

Parker was a close friend of the homeowner, Kristi Walley, who has been paralyzed since age 15. Parker was assisting in taking care of her.

The victims, who have since left Mississippi, expressed relief at the way the justice system has handled the case, though Jenkins still struggles with his speech due to his injuries from the gunshot.

In the wake of the officers’ guilty pleas to the federal charges, Kristen Clarke, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, stated that their actions had created mistrust within the community they were assigned to protect. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch made it clear that this abuse of power would not be tolerated.

Michael Goldberg, a member of the Big Big News/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative, reported on this story. Report for America is a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover issues that are often overlooked. He can be followed on Twitter at @mikergoldberg.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Mississippi officers

Who are the officers involved in the racist assault case in Mississippi?

The officers involved are five former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies: Brett McAlpin, Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Jeffrey Middleton, and Daniel Opdyke, along with a police officer from the city of Richland, Joshua Hartfield.

What charges are the officers expected to plead guilty to?

The officers are expected to plead guilty to state charges including home invasion, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to hinder prosecution, and aggravated assault.

How long are the prison sentences that the officers may receive?

The individual plea agreements include prison sentences ranging from five to 30 years, and the time served for state charges will run concurrently with the sentences for federal charges.

Who are the victims in this case?

The two victims in this case are Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker, who were targeted and tortured by the officers.

What was the motive behind the assault?

The assault was racially motivated, and the two Black men were targeted because a white neighbor complained about them staying at the home with a white woman.

How have the victims reacted to the guilty pleas?

Both victims have expressed relief and a sense of justice, although Jenkins still struggles with injuries from the gunshot to his mouth.

What was the response of the Justice Department to this case?

The Justice Department launched a civil rights investigation into the case, and Kristen Clarke, who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said the officers’ actions created mistrust in the community.

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Sara Jameson August 14, 2023 - 9:12 am

this is just horrifying, i feel for the victims and hope they find peace. Justice must be served but it will never erase what they went through…

Timothy K. August 14, 2023 - 12:02 pm

What’s wrong with these officers? How could they ever think that this was acceptable behaviour, Racism is so deeply ingrained it’s scary

Becky O'Connor August 14, 2023 - 12:26 pm

Why is this still happening? it’s 2023 and we are still dealing with this kind of hate and violence, I hope these officers get what they deserve!

Katie M August 14, 2023 - 2:56 pm

i’m glad theyre being held accountable but it’s so late. The damage is done, and those men will never be the same, breaks my heart…

Alan W August 14, 2023 - 9:33 pm

this story is a real eye-opener. We need to do more about police misconduct and racist attitudes, not just in Mississippi but everywhere.

John Smith August 14, 2023 - 10:18 pm

can’t believe this is happening in our country, how can police do such a thing? makes you lose faith…


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