Racist abuse by Mississippi officers reveals a culture of misconduct, residents say

by Gabriel Martinez
fokus keyword Mississippi officers

Residents have accused Mississippi officers of manifesting a deep-seated culture of misconduct, rooted in racial abuse and violence.

Monica Lee, whose son was fatally beaten by a former sheriff’s deputy, expressed her grief and anger on a hot afternoon in Braxton. This incident followed another episode where six white law enforcement officers viciously tortured two Black men in January, horrifying everyone from federal prosecutors to local citizens.

A guilty plea on federal civil rights charges was entered by the officers involved. One of them had a previous encounter with Lee’s son. The mother believes ex-Deputy Hunter Elward was behind her son’s 2021 death, but he was never indicted or convicted. Lee attributes the unchecked violence to a rotten police culture in the area.

Five deputies from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office, along with a Richland Police Department officer, who referred to themselves as “the Goon Squad,” confessed to a racially motivated attack against Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrel Parker. The victims were doubtful that justice would be served but took pleasure in seeing their tormentors led away in shackles.

Some information related to the involvement of the Goon Squad in the incident has been unsealed by federal prosecutors, and others may be known to U.S. authorities. Lee expressed relief at Elward’s impending incarceration but voiced concern about the ongoing culture of corruption and violence within the sheriff’s office.

Citing a metaphor about one bad apple spoiling the whole bunch, Lee warned that past behavior is often indicative of future actions.

The charges stem from an investigation linking some of the deputies to a series of violent encounters with Black men since 2019, resulting in two deaths and lasting injuries. Such charges and guilty pleas are highly uncommon in law enforcement.

The January incident began when white officers forcefully entered a home without a warrant after a white neighbor complained about Black people’s presence. They subjected Jenkins and Parker to brutal beatings, sexual assault, electric shocks, and further humiliation by pouring substances over their faces and using racial slurs. Elward fired a gun in Jenkins’ mouth, injuring his tongue, and drugs were planted on him to conceal the crimes.

Local leaders and experts have highlighted that such behaviors are deeply ingrained and cultivated within the police culture, fostering fear among the Black community. The officers used this fear to further intimidate Jenkins and Parker, warning them to stay out of Rankin County.

Those who pleaded guilty were identified as former officers from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office and Richland Police Department. The officers acted with impunity due to negligence from Sheriff Bryan Bailey, stated Angela English, president of the Rankin County NAACP.

Bailey, despite admitting embarrassment and shame, refused to resign. Experts like Keith Taylor, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, pointed to the department culture as the root cause of such misconduct.

Monica Lee feels a proper oversight system would have saved her son’s life and prevented the January incident. For Jenkins and Parker, the guilty pleas signify some measure of justice.

Michael Goldberg, reporting for the Big Big News/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative, has been instrumental in bringing this story to light. Report for America is a nonprofit program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover underreported issues.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about fokus keyword Mississippi officers

Who is accused of racial abuse and violence in Mississippi?

Officers from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office and the Richland Police Department are accused of racial abuse and violence against Black residents in Mississippi.

What is the “Goon Squad”?

The “Goon Squad” is a self-given nickname for a group of deputies from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office who were involved in racially motivated violence and abuse.

Was anyone convicted for these crimes?

Yes, several officers pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges related to the racially motivated violence and abuse.

What were the specific actions committed by the officers?

The officers were involved in multiple incidents, including fatal beatings, torturing two Black men with beatings and sexual assault, and using racial slurs. They also planted evidence and poured substances like milk, alcohol, and chocolate syrup over victims’ faces.

How have the residents reacted to these incidents?

Residents are horrified and angered, pointing to a deeply ingrained culture of misconduct within local law enforcement. Some community leaders and experts have emphasized the need for systemic change.

Who is Hunter Elward and what is his connection to the incidents?

Hunter Elward is a former Rankin County Deputy who was involved in some of the violent incidents. Monica Lee believes he was responsible for her son’s death in 2021, although he was never indicted or convicted for that specific crime.

What has been the response of the sheriff overseeing these officers?

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey expressed shame and embarrassment but refused to resign. Critics accuse him of negligence and fostering a culture that allowed the misconduct to occur.

How have the victims responded to the guilty pleas?

Victims like Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrel Parker expressed relief and a sense of justice, taking solace in seeing their abusers being held accountable.

What does the local community fear moving forward?

The local community, especially the Black residents, fears that the culture of corruption, racism, and violence within the sheriff’s office will persist, leading to more incidents in the future.

More about fokus keyword Mississippi officers

  • Local Mississippi news outlets
  • The official website of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office
  • Civil rights organizations such as the NAACP
  • Federal agencies responsible for civil rights enforcement such as the U.S. Department of Justice

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Timothy Lee August 6, 2023 - 7:17 am

The sheriff’s response? He’s guilty of more than just trusting grown men. He’s guilty of allowing this to happen under his watch. Shame on him!

Katie Brown August 6, 2023 - 8:55 am

i’m just spechless at the details. How can such cruelty even exist in our society, There needs to be a complete overhaul of the system.

Sarah O'Connor August 6, 2023 - 9:47 am

This is shocking and heartbreaking all at once! how can people be so cruel? I hope the victims find peace somehow…

Mike Harris August 7, 2023 - 2:21 am

I knew this county had problems but this is next level. where’s the oversight from the top?? they should all be fired and jailed.

John Smith August 7, 2023 - 3:37 am

Can’t belive what I’m reading. these officers should be ashemed of themselves. Justice needs to be served.


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