Six cops in Mississippi pleaded guilty to federal charges they tortured black suspects, raped one with a sex toy, and shot another in the face, and days later admitted state charges too. The so-called "goon squad" of officers from the Rankin County Sheriff's Department (and a sixth suspect from Richmond, Mississippi police department) threatened, terrorized, and assaulted their two victims, then ultimately tried to kill one of them, after an early-morning raid in January, all while subjecting them to a 90-minute racist tirade. When it was over, they denied the victims medical care, tried to cover up what they had done, and laid false charges against them that stood for months.
The men's attorney, Trent Walker, said his clients "feel they're getting justice. They feel vindicated." At the time the allegations emerged, "there were a lot of naysayers," he said. "This proves there is justice in Mississippi, even in Rankin County with its long history of police violence."
At Thursday's hearing, handcuffed officers stood with their lawyers in a semicircle before U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee, who read from a 13-count criminal information. Five deputies pleaded guilty to federal charges: Brett Morris McAlpin, 52, who served as chief investigator; Jeffrey Arwood Middleton, 45, who worked as a lieutenant; Christian Lee Dedmon, 28, who worked as a narcotics investigator; and Hunter Thomas Elward, 31, and Daniel Ready Opdyke, 27, who worked as patrol deputies. Joshua Allen Hartfield, 31, who worked as a narcotics investigator with the Richland Police Department, also pleaded guilty.
This one goes well beyond cliches about police reform, or "ACAB", any of it. These officers are off the scale, were at it for years (with at least two other recent deaths), and weren't even fired until it was obvious the Feds had them cooked. In that small town, more needs to be tried.
Sentencing is in October.
Jenkins and Parker were targeted because a white neighbor complained that two Black men were staying at the home with a white woman, court documents show.
Parker was a childhood friend of the homeowner, Kristi Walley, who was at the hospital at the time. She's been paralyzed since she was 15, and Parker was helping care for her.
"He's a blessing. Every time I've needed him he's been here," Walley said in a February interview. "There were times I've been living here by myself and I didn't know what I was going to do."