Mississippi ‘Goon Squad’ Defendants Sentenced in the Physical Abuse of Two Black Men

On Thursday, March 21, 2024, a Mississippi federal judge concluded the sentencing of six former law enforcement officers and members of the alleged “Goon Squad” who pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse and torture of two Black men. Or so states a new report from MSN. The defendants were handed down prison sentences of between 10 and 40 years.

All six former police officers are still facing sentencing on state charges for their participation in what’s been called a “home-invasion assault,” which is considered among many to be racially charged and brutally calculated. The victims, Eddie Terrell Parker and Michael Corey Jenkins, apparently were stripped naked, handcuffed, sexually assaulted, beaten, and more, while racial slurs were lobbed at them, or so stated the prosecutors working the case.

Professional legal defense attorneys are said to be taking notice of this racially charged case of attempted wrongful death and personal injury. Speaking on behalf of all personal injury victims, Willie D. Powells III and Associates, a black personal injury lawyer Houston, Texas, said, “It’s important for any surviving defendant of a brutal assault to engage in the legal counsel of a reputable attorney who is willing protect one’s legal interests and rights at all costs.”

According to sources, the two-hour assault took place in January of 2023 when the six police officers were said to have broken into the home of the defendants without a warrant in search of illicit drugs. The ordeal ended in a mock-style execution from which Jenkins was gravely wounded via a gunshot wound to the mouth, or so court records show.

Referring to themselves as “the Goon Squad,” the former members were known to utilize excessive force when conducting law enforcement assignments. Records show that five out of the six officers were members of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office.

Said U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland in a statement regarding the harsh penalties invoked by the federal government, the sheer depravity of the violent crimes allegedly committed by the Goon Squad victims can “not be overstated.”

The Goon Squad case garnered national attention to Rankin County, where a select group of residents claims patrol officers have been physically and verbally abusive for decades. These abuses were not limited to blacks but also poor whites who call central Mississippi home.

A wider pattern of police abuse was documented in the late months of 2023, six months after the six defendants pleaded guilty to state and federal charges, or so states a joint inquiry by both the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting and the New York Times. The sentencing for the federal offenses occurred the week of March 21st in the state capital of Jackson. The charges also included deprivation of rights under color of law, civil rights conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Former sheriff’s department chief investigator Brett McAlpin, 53, was sentenced to no less than 27 years behind bars. Later that same day, U.S. District Judge Tom Lee handed down a 10-year sentence to the final defendant in the case, Joshua Hartfelt, 32, who served as an investigative narcotics officer for the Richland, Mississippi police force.

Former narcotics officer and supposed ringleader of the January Goon Squad raid, Christian Dedmon, 29, received the heaviest fine of the six of no less than 40 years in federal lockup. The individual who triggered the gunshot that wounded Jenkins, 31-year-old Hunter Edward, was handed down a sentence of 20 years. Sheriff’s lieutenant Jeffery Middleton, 46, was given a sentence of 17.5 years, while Daniel Opdyke, 28, also was hit with a 17.5-year prison sentence.

Parker addressed the court during the sentencing this past Wednesday in what are said to be his first publicly spoken remarks since the disturbing incident occurred. After describing a detailed account of the harrowing two-hour ordeal, he also said that he witnessed “the devil” coming to him. Or so reported an NBC Jackson, Mississippi, affiliate reporting on legal proceedings.

Federal prosecutors were reported as saying the six defendants charged into the Braxton, Mississippi house where the victims were living on January 24, 2023, not long after the sheriff’s office received complaints from a neighbor who had witnessed suspicious and disturbing behavior from the men who were staying there.

When entering the house, apparently without probable cause or official warning, the officers proceeded to detain Parker and Jenkins. They also demanded to know where they were hiding illicit drugs, or so court documents show. Soon after, the torture began.

After two hours of abuse on behalf of the Goon Squad, Edward placed the barrel of his service weapon into Jenkin’s mouth. Unaware that a round was already loaded in the chamber (a common law enforcement practice), he pulled the trigger, which fired the shot that lacerated the victim’s tongue and did considerable damage to his jaw.

Instead of rendering immediate medical treatment to the badly wounded Jenkins as he lay on the house floor, the law enforcement officers assembled outside the home to make up a cover story. That said, they left a gun on the scene, attempted to burn the victim’s clothing, destroyed evidence, and planted illegal drugs.

Under AG Merrick Garland’s supervision, the U.S. Justice Department officially opened a federal investigation of the case the following month in 2023. Parker and Jenkins also filed a $400 million civil rights lawsuit against Rankin County in June of the same year.

Reuters reports that the guilty pleas entered in the federal court were considered a part of a bigger criminal settlement which presently includes guilty pleas to state offenses. The date for the state sentencing has not yet been set. In the meantime, the defendants are currently serving their state and federal sentences simultaneously.

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