Judge urged to throw book at six ‘Goon Squad’ cops after twisted torture of two black men | US | News

Two black men who were tortured by six Mississippi law enforcement officers have demanded the harshest possible penalties against the disgraced former lawmen as their sentencing gets underway this week.

The ex-officers pleaded guilty in August to subjecting Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker to numerous acts of racially motivated, violent torture.

After a neighbor complained in January 2023 that Jenkins and Parker were in a home with a white woman, the group of six burst into their home without a warrant and assaulted them with stun guns, a sex toy, and other objects.

When a mock execution went wrong and Jenkins was shot in the mouth, they covered up the crime by planting drugs and a gun. The Rankin County Sheriff’s Department then supported the deputies’ false charges, which stood against Jenkins and Parker for months.

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U. S. District Judge Tom Lee will sentence two defendants each day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday after postponing the proceedings twice.

An attorney for Jenkins and Parker requested the “stiffest of sentences.”

“Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker continue to suffer emotionally and physically since this horrific and bloody attack by Rankin County deputies,” Malik Shabazz said in a statement. “A message must be sent to police in Mississippi and all over America,” he added, that such criminal conduct “will be met with the harshest of consequences.”

During a news conference on Monday, Jenkins and Parker shared their ongoing struggles.

“It’s been very hard for me, for us,” Jenkins expressed. “We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.”

The accused officers include ex-Rankin deputies Brett McAlpin, Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield. They admitted guilt to various charges like conspiracy against rights, obstructions of justice, deprivation of rights under color of law, discharge of a firearm during a violent crime, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Most of their lawyers didn’t reply to emails asking for comments on Monday. However, Jason Kirschberg, who is defending Opdyke, stated: “Daniel has accepted responsibility for his actions, and his failures to act. … He has admitted he was wrong and feels deep remorse for the pain he caused the victims.”

Dedmon and Elward could get up to 120 years plus life in prison and fines of $2.75 million each for the federal charges. Hartfield might get 80 years and a $1.5 million fine, McAlpin could face 90 years and $1.75 million, Middleton also faces 80 years and $1.5 million, and Opdyke could be sentenced to 100 years with a $2 million fine.

The ex-officers have agreed to sentences suggested by prosecutors of five to 30 years in state court. But if they’ve already been punished at the state level, that time will count towards their longer federal sentences.

The Associated Press found out in March 2023 that some of these deputies were involved in at least four incidents with black men since 2019. Two men died and another was badly hurt.

Shabazz said that the wrong charges against the victims were only dropped in June. That’s when investigators started looking closely at the deputies, and one deputy started to spill the beans.

They lost their jobs soon after, and the federal charges were made public in August.

The prosecutors say some officers called themselves the “Goon Squad” because they often used too much force and hid their attacks.

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey described the actions of his deputies as the most severe case of police brutality he had ever witnessed. For months, Bailey remained silent about the incident.

After the officers admitted their guilt in August, Bailey claimed the officers had acted independently and vowed to reform the department.

Jenkins and Parker have demanded his resignation and have lodged a £400 million civil lawsuit against the department.

“I relive this every day,” said Parker. “Every time I turn on the TV. Every time I pick up the phone, every time I’m on social media, people are recounting my story.”

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