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Mississippi ‘Goon Squad’ officers jailed for torturing two black men

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Two former Mississippi sheriff’s deputies, members of a group calling themselves “The Goon Squad,” have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms for their part in the torture of two black men.

Hunter Elward, 31, was jailed for 20 years and Jeffrey Middleton, 46, was sentenced Tuesday to 17 1/2 years in back-to-back proceedings in federal court in Jackson. Mississippiaccording to the US Department of Justice.

They were two of six police officers who burst into a home in Braxton, Mississippi, without a search warrant and assaulted Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker with stun guns, a sex toy and other objects.

    top left, Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke, former Rankin County sheriff's deputies, and Joshua Hartfield, former Richland police officer, appearing in Rankin County Circuit Court .  File photo: AP
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(Top left) Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke and Joshua Hartfield. File photo: AP

This followed a complaint filed with the sheriff’s office by a white neighbor that two black men were staying with a white woman at that address and that they had witnessed “suspicious behavior.”

The victims were held captive and handcuffed during a two-hour ordeal that ended with Mr. Jenkins being shot in the mouth. His tongue was lacerated and his jaw was broken.

Michael Corey Jenkins speaks outside the federal courthouse.  Photo: AP
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Michael Corey Jenkins outside the federal courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi. Photo: AP

Michael Corey Jenkins, who, along with Eddie Terrell Parker, was tortured by six Rankin County, Mississippi police officers in 2023. Photo: AP
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He was shot in the mouth. Photo: AP

Once inside the house, they handcuffed Mr Jenkins and his friend Mr Parker and poured milk, alcohol and chocolate syrup on their faces. They then forced them to undress and shower together to cover up the damage.

They mocked the victims with racist insults and shocked them with stun guns.

One of the sheriff’s deputies, Christian Dedmon, attacked them with a sex toy.

After Elward shot Mr. Jenkins in the mouth in a “mock execution” that went wrong when he pulled the trigger, the officers engineered a cover-up.

This included destroying surveillance video, attempting to burn the victims’ clothing, and hiding drugs and a gun.

False accusations were made against both victims for months.

Eddie Terrell Parker speaks outside the federal courthouse.  Photo: AP
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Eddie Terrell Parker was one of the victims of the attack. Photo: AP

Officers warned them to “stay out of Rankin County and return to Jackson or ‘their side’ of the Pearl River,” court documents state, referring to an area with higher concentrations of black residents .

The former officers, all white, called themselves “the Goon Squad” because of their willingness to use excessive force, according to documents filed in the case.

In a statement released Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland condemned the “heinous attack on citizens they were sworn to protect.”

Before sentencing Elward and Middleton, U.S. District Judge Tom Lee called their actions “egregious and despicable.”

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Elward and Middleton pleaded guilty along with the four other former law enforcement officers last summer to multiple crimes, including civil rights conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

Daniel Opdyke, 28, and Dedmon, 29, are expected to appear separately before Judge Lee on Wednesday for sentencing.

Brett McAlpin, 53, and a former Richland police officer, Joshua Hartfield, 32, are scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.

The guilty pleas filed in federal court in August were part of a larger deal that included guilty pleas to state charges. No date has yet been set for sentencing in this state case.

Defendants must serve their federal and state sentences concurrently.

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