Former Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Sentenced for Torturing Black Men

Six former white law enforcement officers in Mississippi, who had already been sentenced to federal prison for torturing two Black men, received additional state sentences on Wednesday. The state sentences, although not adding time to their federal prison terms, were seen as significant in Mississippi due to the state’s history of racial atrocities committed by people in authority.

The former officers, who attacked Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker in January 2023, were previously sentenced to federal prison terms ranging from 10 to 40 years. U.S. District Judge Tom Lee described their actions as “egregious and despicable” and handed down sentences near the top of the federal guidelines. Rankin County Circuit Judge Steve Ratcliff, on the other hand, imposed yearslong state sentences that were shorter than the federal prison terms but longer than what state prosecutors had recommended.

The state convictions will run concurrently with the federal sentences, and the defendants will serve their time in federal penitentiaries. The victims’ supporters celebrated the sentences, emphasizing the importance of holding the former officers accountable in a state where racial crimes and police brutality against Black individuals have historically been ignored or downplayed.

Attorney Malik Shabazz, representing Jenkins and Parker, expressed satisfaction that the former law officers were being held accountable in the same courthouse where they had testified against others. Shabazz highlighted the significance of the state criminal sentencing, applauding Judge Ratcliff’s decision to reject state prosecutors’ recommendations for shorter sentences.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch acknowledged the harm caused by the former officers’ crimes, stating that they violated the trust of citizens they were meant to protect. Fitch called for collective efforts to repair the damage caused by such criminal acts.

The defendants, consisting of five former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies and a former police officer from the city of Richland, had all pleaded guilty to state charges of conspiracy to hinder prosecution. They were sentenced on multiple counts, ranging from five to 20 years. One of the defendants, Hunter Elward, admitted to aggravated assault and received a 20-year sentence in addition to punishments for burglary and conspiracy.

The charges against the former officers stemmed from an Associated Press investigation that linked them to several violent encounters since 2019, resulting in the deaths of two Black men. The incident in question occurred on January 24, 2023, following a racist call for extrajudicial violence. The officers, referring to themselves as “The Goon Squad,” subjected Jenkins and Parker to physical and psychological torture, including racial slurs, mock executions, and sexual assault. They also conspired to plant drugs on the victims as part of a cover-up.

During their federal court proceedings, the former officers expressed remorse and apologized to Jenkins and Parker. Their attorneys argued that they had become entangled in a culture of corruption encouraged by leaders in the sheriff’s office. Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey, who fired the officers in June, provided no details about their actions at the time but promised changes after their guilty pleas. Jenkins and Parker have called for Bailey’s resignation and filed a $400 million civil lawsuit against the department.

CrimeDoor
Author: CrimeDoor

1 Response

  1. What steps can be taken to address systemic racism within law enforcement and ensure accountability for officers who engage in acts of racial violence?

Leave a Reply

Share on:

[mailpoet_form id="1"]

Subscribe to Our Newsletter