The U.S. Department of Justice is asking those who may have been victims of crimes committed by members of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office to come forward with their claims.
In a move sparked by eye-opening levels of abuse committed against two Black men by five Rankin County deputies and one Richland officer, federal officials are looking to ensure that individuals are protected from police brutality.
“The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing laws protecting the civil rights of all persons in Rankin County, Mississippi, and throughout the nation. To enforce these laws, it is critical that federal authorities receive information from the public regarding allegations of abuse,” the DOJ stated in a press release.
Federal officials are stepping in after the officers, who were involved in a group called the “Goon Squad”, executed a no-knock warrant on a Braxton home on January 24 and used excessive force against Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker.
Officers Hunter Elward, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke, Christian Dedmon, Brett McAlpin, and Joshua Hartfield have all pleaded guilty to their various roles in using sex toys on the two men, stunning them with squad-issued tasers, waterboarding them with alcohol, chocolate syrup, and milk, amongst other heinous actions.
Things took a drastic turn when a gun Elward placed into Jenkins’ mouth discharged, leaving the victim with a broken jaw, lacerated tongue, and severe wounds in his neck. The officers then planted a gun and drugs on the two men in an attempt to cover up their actions, prompting a federal civil rights investigation which revealed all they had done to the victims.
Those who have been a victim or those who know someone who may have been subject to abuse by a member of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office to contact the FBI hotline at (1-800) CALL-FBI, email tips.fbi.gov, or call the Jackson Field Office at (601)948-5000.
As for the officers involved in the January incident, the six “Goon Squad” members currently await sentencing for federal charges. A federal judge recently rescheduled sentencing dates to the following:
- Elward: Jan. 16 at 9 a.m.
- Middleton: Jan. 16 at 1 p.m.
- Opdyke: Jan. 18 at 9 a.m.
- Dedmon: Jan. 18 at 1 p.m.
- McAlpin: Jan. 19 at 9 a.m.
- Hartfield: Jan. 19 at 1 p.m.
A complete timeline of events as well as state charges against the officers involved can be found here.