Six Former Mississippi Officers Face Civil Rights Charges in Assault on 2 Black Men

Six white former law enforcement officers from Mississippi have been charged with federal civil rights offenses several months after they raided a home where prosecutors said two Black men were stripped naked, beaten and shocked with Tasers.

One of the men was also shot during a “mock execution” and abused with a sex toy, federal prosecutors said.

The Associated Press reported that the former officers had pleaded guilty on Thursday, although that could not be immediately confirmed by The New York Times.

The six former officers include five members of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office and a member of the Richland Police Department, which is also in Rankin County, which is in central Mississippi near Jackson, the state capital. Several of the deputies called themselves “the goon squad,” because of their “willingness to use excessive force and not to report it,” a federal complaint states.

The former officers were charged with conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law and conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice, among other charges, according to court documents.

The Richland Police Department and the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday afternoon.

The two Black men were identified only by their initials, M.J. and E.P., in federal court documents. But they had previously been identified as Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker in a federal lawsuit that they filed last month that accused six Rankin County officers of beating them over the course of nearly two hours.

According to federal prosecutors, Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker had been staying at a ranch-style home in Braxton, Miss., that was owned by a white woman who was a longtime friend of Mr. Parker’s.

On Jan. 24, a white neighbor told one of the Rankin County deputies that “several” Black men were staying at the house and that the neighbor had observed “suspicious behavior” there, the complaint states.

One of the sheriff’s deputies, Christian Lee Dedmon, reached out to members of “the goon squad,” the complaint states.

“Are y’all available for a mission?” Mr. Dedmon texted them, the complaint states.

That night, the six officers raided the home without a warrant after they kicked in the back door and a carport door, the complaint states.

The officers handcuffed and repeatedly stunned Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker with Tasers, the complaint states. Mr. Parker was also kicked in the ribs. Mr. Dedmon demanded to know “where the drugs were” and fired a shot into the back of the house, the complaint states. Mr. Parker replied that there were no drugs.

The officers hurled racial slurs at the men, accused them of “taking advantage” of the white woman who owned the house and told them to “go back to Jackson or to ‘their side’ of the Pearl River, areas with higher concentrations of Black residents,” the complaint states.

In the house, one of the deputies put a sex toy onto the end of a BB gun and forced it into Mr. Parker’s mouth, the complaint states, adding that he then tried to force it into Mr. Jenkins’s mouth. While the men were handcuffed, they were held down while milk, alcohol and chocolate syrup were poured onto their faces and into their mouths, the complaint states.

The men were then ordered to strip naked and to shower off to wash away evidence of the abuse before they were brought to jail, the complaint states.

After they showered, the men were beaten with a wooden kitchen tool and a metal sword. The officers repeatedly jolted the men with Tasers again.

One of the deputies then subjected Mr. Jenkins to what federal prosecutors described as a mock execution, the complaint states. That deputy, Hunter Thomas Elward, forced Mr. Jenkins on his knees, stuck an unloaded gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger, the complaint states.

He then racked the slide, intending to “dry-fire” the gun a second time, the complaint states. But when Mr. Elward put the gun back into Mr. Jenkins’s mouth and pulled the trigger, he shot a bullet that lacerated Mr. Jenkins’s tongue, broke his jaw and exited his neck, the complaint states.

Lawyers for Mr. Dedmon and Mr. Elward did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

Melvin Jenkins, Mr. Jenkins’s father, said that he was glad that the former officers had been charged.

“I’m so glad that justice was carried out, and maybe this will help other families,” Mr. Jenkins said in an interview on Thursday.

“I know it won’t put an end to it,” he added, but “maybe another family won’t have to bury their child or go through what we went through.”

Mr. Jenkins said that while his son’s physical condition was slowly improving, he still had “a long way to go.”

Michael Levenson joined The Times in December 2019. He was previously a reporter at The Boston Globe, where he covered local, state and national politics and news. More about Michael Levenson

Livia Albeck-Ripka is a reporter for The Times based in California. She was previously a reporter in the Australia bureau. More about Livia Albeck-Ripka

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