Former Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Sentenced to Prison for Abusing Black Men

Six former law enforcement officers from Mississippi, who subjected two Black men to hours of abuse, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 15 to 45 years in state court on Wednesday. These sentences are in addition to their federal sentences handed down last month, which ranged from 10 to 40 years.

The former officers, comprising five former Rankin County Sheriff’s deputies – Hunter Elward, Brett McAlpin, Christian Dedmon, Daniel Opdyke, and Jeffrey Middleton – along with former Richland Police Department officer Joshua Hartfield, pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the torture of Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker at a home in January 2023.

The abuse unfolded as the officers illegally entered a home in Braxton without a warrant, subjected the victims to racist vitriol, deployed Tasers on them despite being handcuffed, beat them with various objects, and even shot Jenkins in the mouth. Following the sentencing hearing, Jenkins described the ordeal in a statement, revealing the racial slurs and the attempt to set him up for imprisonment.

The former officers faced state charges of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, with additional charges such as home invasion and aggravated assault for some individuals. While the state sentences will run concurrently with the federal ones, some officers will serve additional time due to the state charges.

Despite the sentencing, the community demands further action, including the removal of Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey from office. Rankin County NAACP President Angela English emphasized the need for thorough reform within the sheriff’s department to address systemic issues and restore public trust.

The Attorney General of Mississippi, Lynn Fitch, condemned the officers’ actions, emphasizing the harm inflicted on the victims and the erosion of trust between law enforcement and the community. Fitch underscored the impact of such crimes on both the victims and law-abiding officers, calling for collective efforts to repair the damage caused.

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