The six former Mississippi law enforcement officers who tortured and abused two Black men in a racist attack were sentenced Wednesday to 15 to 45 years in prison on state charges. 

The men — former Rankin County Sheriff’s deputies Brett Morris McAlpin, 53, Christian Dedmon, 29, Jeffrey Middleton, 46, Hunter Elward, 31, and Daniel Opdyke, 28, and a former police officer from the city of Richland Joshua Hartfield, 32 — had pleaded guilty to state charges in August.

McAlpin, Middleton, and Opdyke were sentenced to serve 20 years; Dedmon to 25 years; Elward to 45 years; and Hartfield to 15 years in federal penitentiaries. The sentences will be served concurrently with their federal sentences, and all were ordered to pay $6,431 within two years of release, and permanently surrender their law enforcement certificates.

Prosecutors said the white officers had nicknamed themselves the “Goon Squad” due to their willingness to use excessive force and cover up their brutal attack on Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker in January 2023.

In the attack, the men verbally abused Jenkins and Parker, beat them, assaulted them with stun guns and a sex toy, and one of them shot Jenkins in the mouth in a “mock execution.”

The men had also pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with the assault and were sentenced to federal prison terms of 10 to 40 years. 

The attack

In January 2023, McAlpin received a call from a white person who complained that Jenkins and Parker were residing with a white woman at a house in Braxton, Mississippi.

McAlpin then texted a group — the self-described “The Goon Squad” — which the Justice Department described as being known “for using excessive force and not reporting it.”

The group of men then went to that home without a warrant and assaulted Jenkins and Parker, physically punched and kicked them, called them racial slurs, forced them to ingest liquids, and assaulted them with a dildo, the Justice Department said.

Dedmon also fired his gun twice in an effort to intimidate the men, the department said.

In a mock execution, Elward removed a bullet from the chamber of his gun and forced the gun into Jenkins’ mouth before pulling the trigger. No bullet was fired the first time, but he pulled the trigger a second time, and it lacerated Jenkins’ tongue and broke his jaw.

The officers then planned a coverup and agreed to plant drugs on Jenkins and Parker, and those false charges stood against the men for months, The Associated Press reported.

Sentencing

In Wednesday’s sentencing, attorneys read statements for the victims. 

“After Hunter Elward shot me, they left me to die bleeding on the floor and they tried to set me up to be imprisoned,” a statement on behalf of Michael Jenkins said. “January 24th, Your Honor, was the worst day of my life. I was brutally beaten and nearly killed by the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department, also known as the Goon Squad. I never would have thought a night of hanging out with friends would nearly cost me my life.”

“They beat, kicked, tased, insulted, waterboarded and humiliated me over and over again,” the statement said. 

“I can no longer do what I love to do and that’s sing. I play the drums for my church. And because I was shot in the face, it affected my vision so I can no longer play … I wake it up at night covered in sweat because of the nightmares of my attack. Loud noises police lights, sirens, all give me extreme fear and anxiety. I am broken inside and I don’t ever think I’ll be the person I was,” the statement continued.

A statement on behalf of Eddie Parker said the actions of that night of terror “has left a scar on me that will last forever.”

“I never knew the ones that were sworn to protect and serve would be the ones I need protection from,” the statement said. “I am in constant fear someone will break into my home and terrorize me again … the humiliation and embarrassment from the sexual assault is too great to me to talk about.”

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