In a shocking turn of events, six former law enforcement officers from Mississippi, who labeled themselves as the “Goon Squad,” have pleaded guilty to a brutal racist assault on two Black men. The incident took place during a home raid that left one of the victims with a gunshot wound to the mouth. The charges were brought to light following an extensive investigation carried out by the Associated Press, which revealed a pattern of violent encounters between these deputies and Black men over the past two years.
The officers, consisting of five former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies and an ex-Richland police officer, made their appearance in federal court as the civil rights charges were unsealed. With their guilty pleas, it became evident that on January 24, the officers forcefully entered the victims’ home without a warrant. They subsequently handcuffed and subjected Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker to a horrifying ordeal, which included the use of stun guns, physical assault with a sex object, and racial slurs.
The assault endured by Jenkins and Parker lasted approximately 90 minutes, culminating in one deputy viciously placing a gun in Jenkins’ mouth and firing it. This senseless act caused severe injuries to the victim, impacting his tongue, jaw, and his neck. Shockingly, the officers neglected their duty to provide Jenkins with immediate medical attention. Instead, they engaged in a cover-up, discussing a false narrative as they planted and tampered with evidence.
Investigation documents unveiled that the officers targeted the victims’ home in Braxton based on a complaint lodged by a white neighbor. This complaint alleged that Black individuals were staying with a white woman who owned the property. Such racially motivated action is deeply disturbing and has no place in a society that strives for equality and justice.
Jenkins and Parker have bravely come forward, publicly discussing the harrowing incident and filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against Rankin County, seeking significant damages of $400 million. Court documents unearthed the officers’ self-proclaimed alias, the Goon Squad, which seemingly reflected their willingness to employ excessive force without accountability.
The Justice Department initiated a civil rights probe in response to the allegations made by Jenkins and Parker, prompting swift action. Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey took decisive steps by firing or accepting the resignation of all five deputies involved in the January 24 raid. It was later revealed that ex-Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield was the sixth law enforcement officer who participated in the raid, despite being off-duty. Consequently, Hartfield was also terminated from his position.
The charges against these former law enforcement officers were filed as a criminal information in federal court, providing a detailed account of their criminal offenses. It is important to note that such charges do not require a grand jury’s vote, highlighting the significance of the case and the evidence presented against the defendants.
As the nation grapples with racial inequality and the urgent need for police reform, these guilty pleas shine a light on the dark underbelly of law enforcement. The victims’ courage in seeking justice, coupled with the relentless pursuit of truth by investigative journalists, serves as a reminder of the work that remains to be done. It is crucial that we hold those in positions of power accountable for their actions and continue the fight for equality and justice in our communities.