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Six former officers sentenced in Mississippi Torture case

Six former officers sentenced in Mississippi Torture case

In a significant ruling that underscores the ongoing issues of police brutality and systemic racism, six former Mississippi law enforcement officers have been sentenced for the torture of two Black men, Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker.

Eddie Terrell Parker speaks outside the federal courthouse in Jackson, Miss., March 19, 2024. Rogelio V. Solis/AP

The case has drawn national attention and sparked widespread calls for justice and reform.

The officers, Brett McAlpin, Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke, and Joshua Hartfield, faced a range of federal charges, including civil rights conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, and obstruction of justice.

Their actions were described as "egregious and despicable" by U.S. District Judge Tom Lee, who presided over the case.

The incident, which occurred on January 24, 2023, began when a white neighbor reported "suspicious activity" involving Black men at a nearby property.

The officers, who referred to themselves as "The Goon Squad," responded with excessive force that escalated into a prolonged and brutal assault involving beatings, sexual assault with a sex toy, and the use of Tasers while the victims were handcuffed.

Hunter Elward, one of the former officers, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the torture.

He is the first among the six to receive a sentence. The other officers' sentences are expected to follow, with the possibility of decades in prison for the charges they face.

During the sentencing, Michael Jenkins, who was shot in the mouth during the assault, resulting in a broken jaw and a cut tongue, expressed his desire for justice. "It's been very hard for me, for us," Jenkins said. "We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst."

Michael Corey Jenkins speaks outside the federal courthouse in Jackson, Miss., March 19, 2024. Rogelio V. Solis/AP

He and Parker called for the "stiffest of sentences" to be meted out on the former officers.

The Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, has condemned the actions of the officers, stating,

"The defendants in this case tortured and inflicted unspeakable harm on their victims, egregiously violated the civil rights of citizens who they were supposed to protect, and shamefully betrayed the oath they swore as law enforcement officers,"

and affirmed their commitment to holding those who abuse their power accountable.

This case has become a focal point in the broader conversation about law enforcement's relationship with minority communities and the urgent need for comprehensive police reform.