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Rankin County ‘Goon Squad’ Officers to Be Sentenced on State Charges Wednesday

A composite of six former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies
On April, 10, 2024, Rankin County Circuit Court Judge Steve Ratcliff will sentence six former Rankin County, Miss., law-enforcement officers known as the “Goon Squad” on state charges related to the torture of two Black men during an illegal home raid Jan. 24, 2023. The men received federal prison sentences between March 19, 2024, and March 21, 2024. From top left: former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield 10 years. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

BRANDON, Miss.—Five former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies and one Richland police officer will receive state sentences this week for the physical, sexual and racist torture of two Black men.

The former officers, some of whom considered themselves part of a rogue group known as the ‘goon squad’ for their proclivity to use violence against residents, have already received federal sentences for the torture of Michael Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker in Braxton, Miss., in January 2023.

Last month, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi Judge Tom Lee gave each of the six ex-officers sentences ranging from 10 to 40 years in prison, calling their actions “egregious and despicable” acts. The officers are Hunter Elward, Jeffrey Middleton, Brett McAlpin, Joshua Hartfield, Christian Dedmon and Daniel Opdyke.

Several men stand outside to speak in front of local media microphones.
Eddie Terrell Parker (left) and Michael Jenkins (right), seen here with attorney Trent Walker (center), spoke about the suffering they endured at a press conference in Jackson, Miss., on March 18, 2024. Photo by Shaunicy Muhammad

Rankin County Circuit Court Judge Steve Ratcliff will deliver the mens’ sentences for their state charges on Wednesday starting at 9 a.m. in Brandon, Miss. The ex-officers will serve their state sentences concurrently with their federal sentences, Lee decided last month.

“We still want Judge Ratcliff to impose maximum sentences for those crimes,” Trent Walker, one of two attorneys representing Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker, said at an NAACP town hall in Brandon on Saturday ahead of the sentencing.

Walker and attorney Malik Shabazz also filed a $400-million civil lawsuit last June against the officers and Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey for the warrantless home raid and vicious attacks on Parker and Jenkins in Braxton, Miss., on the night of Jan. 24, 2023.

‘Our Lives Have Been Drastically Changed’

Rankin County sheriff’s deputy Hunter Elward shot Michael Jenkins in the mouth when he and five other officers levied a racist attack on Jenkins and his friend Eddie Parker during an illegal home raid in January 2023.

Jenkins’ parents, Melvin and Mary Jenkins, spoke to a group gathered at an NAACP town hall in Brandon, Miss., on April 6, 2024.

“I think God kept my son here for the perfect purpose of exposing Rankin County,” Jenkins’ father, Melvin, said. He thanked the NAACP and media for the attention they have given the case but said the family has received threats after speaking out about what happened to Jenkins last year.

“My family, my son … y’all wouldn’t believe the hell we’ve been through,” Melvi Jenkins continued. “Me and my wife used to sit out on our porch, but now you don’t know who’s lurking. Our lives have been drastically changed.”

A woman and a man stand among a seated audience, talking towards the front of the room
Melvin Jenkins (right), the father of Michael Jenkins, one of two men the Rankin County ‘Goon Squad’ tortured during an unwarranted home raid on Jan. 24, 2023, said he and his wife, Mary (left) have received threatening phone calls since speaking publicly about what happened to their son. Photo by Shaunicy Muhammad

Attorney Trent Walker and Rankin County NAACP president Angela English, both natives of Rankin County, said on Saturday that they are still getting calls from other people about abuses they say they have suffered at the hands of Rankin County law-enforcement officers.

“It’s not really about color—it’s about justice,” Walker said. “The binding thread is that these deputies made an evaluation of who they could get away with doing this to. If you were poor, if you had drug problems, if you were poor and Black, if you were a mixed-race couple, in some cases, they felt like they could get away with doing this to you.”

NAACP President Calls For Rankin County Sheriff To Resign

On Saturday, Rankin County NAACP President Angela English repeated her call for Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey to resign.

“No one who allowed these actions to take place should be allowed to continue (to keep their job),” English said. “This is not good for Rankin County; we’re in the national spotlight, and it’s not good things that we’re in the spotlight for.”

“That’s why we’re here,” English continued. “We’re about getting Mr. Bailey out of office. Bye, Mr. Bailey. It’s been nice. Not really.”

Bailey, who won reelection in November after running unopposed, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of what the “goon squad” was doing to residents and rejected calls to resign.

A closeup of a woman in a yellow top and pin striped jacket sits pensively
Rankin County NAACP President Angela English said at a town hall in Brandon, Miss., on April 6, 2024, that she does not believe Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey’s claims that he knew nothing of the terror the “goon squad” was unleashing on residents. Photo by Shaunicy Muhammad

The sheriff released a statement to the Pelahatchie News on Nov. 28, 2023, saying he was implementing new policies after the torture of Parker and Jenkins.

“The safety and security of our citizens, and visitors, is one of our main objectives, and we take all occurrences of this nature very seriously,” Bailey said.

All RCSD deputies shall intervene if they witness a fellow officer engaging in any act that is unethical, violates federal or state law (including when force is being excessively or unreasonably applied or applied when there is no longer a justification), or violates RCSD policy,” the policy states.

In an Aug. 3, 2023, press release announcing the guilty pleas of the six officers, the FBI encouraged anyone who has been abused by officers within the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department to contact them.

They continue to investigate those allegations and urge victims to come forward.

“If you or someone you know has been the victim of abuse by a deputy with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office, call the FBI hotline at 1-800-CALL-FBI, email or call the FBI Jackson Field Office at 601-948-5000.”

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