In a spine-chilling incident that has sent shockwaves across the nation, six former white law enforcement officers have pleaded guilty to the horrifying beating and sexual assault of two Black men in Rankin County, Mississippi. The five sheriff’s deputies from Rankin County, along with another officer, entered their guilty pleas on Thursday in federal court. This shocking case involved the officers facing an array of charges, including civil rights conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, and obstruction of justice.
The accused individuals, who referred to themselves as “The Goon Squad,” subjected Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker to an unfathomable ordeal simply for spending the night with a white woman. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, firmly denounced these crimes as a “horrific and stark example of violent police misconduct that has no place in our society today.”
Adding to the gravity of the situation, three of the former officers, namely Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, and Daniel Opdyke, also pleaded guilty to a separate incident involving the use of excessive force last year. The relentless 90-minute assault on Jenkins and Parker occurred on the night of January 24th, when the officers unlawfully entered the residence where the victims were staying. After handcuffing them, they subjected both men to a barrage of physical and sexual abuse, employing a sex toy, wood, and a metal sword as instruments of torture.
The attackers followed their heinous acts by pouring milk, alcohol, and chocolate syrup over their victims’ faces and forcing them to strip naked before showering together. The unimaginable horror reached an apex when one of the officers put a gun in Jenkins’s mouth and fired. Remarkably, the perpetrators displayed callous indifference, leaving Jenkins to bleed on the floor while they focused on developing a cover-up plan.
Speaking at a news conference in Jackson, U.S. attorney Darren LaMarca expressed profound outrage, stating, “What indifference. What disregard for life.” LaMarca revealed that the officers gathered on the porch of the house, callously discussing ways to conceal their despicable crimes, further underscoring the utter lack of humanity behind their actions. As part of their elaborate cover-up, the officers fabricated a narcotics bust by planting a gun and drugs at the scene.
Assistant Attorney General Clarke aptly referred to the assault on Jenkins and Parker as “torture,” emphasizing that the officers sought to dehumanize their victims and send a repugnant message that these two Black men were unwelcome “on their side of the river.” In addition to the federal charges, the former law enforcement officers also face accusations of aggravated assault, home invasion, and obstruction of justice in the first degree, as announced by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who firmly stated, “This abuse of power will not be tolerated.”
It has come to light that several of the deputies involved in this harrowing incident were also linked to at least four other violent encounters with Black men since 2019, resulting in two deaths and severe injuries. As a result, Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey confirmed in June that all the officers involved had either been fired or resigned.
In response to the atrocity they endured, Jenkins and Parker have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Rankin County, seeking $400 million in damages, a demand that reflects the magnitude of psychological and physical trauma inflicted upon them.
This deeply disturbing case serves as a profoundly disturbing reminder that such blatant abuse of power has no place in our society. It is crucial that we condemn and address acts of violence rooted in racism and hold those responsible fully accountable for their heinous actions.