Current Weather

On Air Now

Brett Elmore
Brett Elmore
6:00am - 8:00am

6 former Mississippi Goon Squad officers sentenced to decades in prison in torture of 2 Black men

SHARE NOW

(NEW YORK) — Six former Mississippi law enforcement officers were sentenced to decades in prison during hearings in federal court in Jackson this week for their roles in the torture of two Black men, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Four of the former officers were sentenced earlier this week, while the last two were sentenced on Thursday.

Former Rankin County sheriff’s deputy Brett McAlpin was sentenced on Thursday to about 27 years in prison, while former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield was sentenced to 10 years.

McAlpin and Hartfield are part of a group of former law enforcement officers who had dubbed themselves the “Goon Squad” for their willingness to use excessive force, according to the DOJ.

All six pleaded guilty to a total of 16 felonies related to the racially motivated torture and sexual assault of Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker, as well as a subsequent plan to cover up their crimes.

Former Rankin County sheriff’s deputy Christian Dedmon was sentenced to 40 years in prison during a hearing in federal court in Jackson on Wednesday for his role in the torture of Jenkins and Parker, as well as the assault of another man during an incident in December 2022 during a traffic stop.

According to federal prosecutors, Dedmon was the organizer of both attacks has received the harshest sentence so far.

“I want to tell them I’m sorry for what they went through, what they are going through,” Dedmon said during the sentencing hearing, per WAPT. “If I [could] take every bit of it back, I promise I would.”

Malik Shabazz, the lead attorney representing victims Jenkins and Parker, told ABC News in a statement following Dedmon’s sentencing that “history was made today in Mississippi.”

“The 40-year prison sentence given to ‘Goon Squad’ member Christian Dedman by Judge Thomas Lee for the sick and serious crimes committed against our clients Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker made history today,” Shabazz said. “All of these ‘Goon Squad’ sentences are sending a serious message to all rogue police and other ‘Goon Squads’ all over America, that justice is coming to you.”

Earlier on Wednesday, former Rankin County sheriff’s deputy Daniel Opdyke was sentenced to 17 1/2 years in prison for his role in the incident.

Opdyke cried during the sentencing, according to WAPT, and said that his time in prison so far has helped him reflect on “how I transformed into the monster I became that night.”

“The weight of my actions and the harm I’ve caused will haunt me every day,” Opdyke told the victims. “I wish I could take away your suffering.”

Former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward was sentenced on Tuesday to 241 months, or about 20 years, while Jeffrey Middleton received a 17 1/2-year sentence for his role in the incident, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.,”These defendants will spend 20 years and 17.5 years in prison for their heinous attack on citizens they had sworn an oath to protect,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement on Tuesday following the first round of sentencing.

“The Justice Department will hold accountable officers who violate constitutional rights, and in so doing, betray the public trust,” his statement concluded.

In their guilty pleas, the six former law enforcement officers admitted to breaking into a home where Jenkins and Parker were residing without a warrant after a white neighbor reported that the men were staying with a white woman and alleged “suspicious” activity. They then proceeded to arrest the two men “without probable cause” that they committed any crimes, according to the DOJ.

Some of the defendants were part of a group of shift officers who called themselves “The Goon Squad” because of their “willingness to use excessive force and not report it,” according to charging documents. The group was summoned by Dedmon to the home where Jenkins and Parker were residing, according to the DOJ, after McAlpin asked him to investigate.

During the incident, the officers beat Jenkins and Parker, mocked them with racial slurs, sexually assaulted them with a sex toy, forced them to strip naked and shower together and shocked them with Tasers for roughly 90 minutes while handcuffed, according to court documents obtained by ABC News. Jenkins was also shot in the mouth by Elward, per the DOJ.

Following the incident, the two victims faced false charges for months, according to the DOJ, stemming from the officers’ plan to cover up their actions by tampering with and planting evidence, including drugs and a gun.

ABC News has reached out to the officers but requests for comment were not returned.

Jenkins and Parker, along with their attorney Shabazz, told reporters on Monday that they have been struggling with the enduring trauma of the brutal attack. Following Elward’s sentencing on Tuesday, the two men told Jackson ABC affiliate WAPT that justice had been done.

Elward, who pleaded guilty to the most serious charge in the indictment — discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence — stood up in the courtroom and apologized to the victims, according to WAPT, saying, “I hate myself for it. I accept my responsibility.”

Parker stood up and told Elward that he forgives him, and later that afternoon told WAPT that while he forgives “what is done,” Elward “still did what he did and he has to be punished.”

Asked if he also forgives Elward, Jenkins told WAPT, “I don’t know. No, no, because if he wouldn’t have got caught, he’d still be doing the same thing.”

The charges the officers pleaded guilty to include civil rights conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice. They also pleaded guilty to similar state charges and are awaiting sentencing in the state case. State sentences will be served concurrently.

Dedmon, Elward and Opdyke also pleaded guilty to three additional federal felony offenses related to a separate incident that took place on Dec. 4, 2022, per the DOJ.

The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the incident in Feb. 2023, along with the FBI, amid outrage from the community and as attorneys for Jenkins and Parker filed a notice of claim for a $400 million federal lawsuit.

“It’s in court, and we’re fighting,” Shabazz told ABC News on Monday when asked about the status of the lawsuit.

In an October 2023 response to the complaint obtained by ABC News, the officers denied the allegations alleged in the lawsuit.

ABC News’ Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.