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Former law enforcement officers plead...

Former law enforcement officers plead guilty to state charges in Rankin ‘Goon Squad’ case

By: Sarah Ulmer - August 14, 2023

Former Rankin County sheriff’s deputy Brett McAlpin talks with his attorney at the Rankin County Circuit Court in Brandon, Miss., Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. McAlpin is one of six white former Mississippi law officers that pleaded guilty to state charges on Monday for torturing two Black men in a racist assault. All six had recently admitted their guilt in a connected federal civil rights case. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The officers were accused of torturing two men after unlawfully entering their dwelling in January, leaving one victim shot in the mouth.

A little over a week after pleading guilty to federal charges, the six former law enforcement officers involved in a January incident involving the torture of two men have now plead guilty to the state charges.  

State charges were filed the same day all six plead guilty to the federal charges. The former officers will face federal sentencing in November. The state charges include hindering prosecution and conspiracy to hinder, burglary, home invasion, and aggravated assault. The men did not all face the same charges.

RELATED: Officers plead guilty in torture and shooting of men in Rankin County

The officers who were part of a group they referred to as “The Goon Squad,” included five Rankin County Sheriff’s deputies, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Christian Lee Dedmon, Hunter Thomas Elward, and Daniel Opdyke, and one Richland K9 officer, Joshua Hartfield.

According to the Department of Justice, the officers made forced entry into a private residence where Eddie Parker and Michael Jenkins were staying without a warrant. The criminal information filed by the Department of Justice then related a series of physical and mental abuses perpetrated against Parker and Jenkins, culminating in Jenkins being shot from inside his mouth. During the events, the officers’ body-worn cameras had been turned off.

“The horrific acts committed by these six individuals are utterly disheartening. Their actions have placed a dark cloud on law enforcement everywhere,” said Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell in a statement. “As stewards of the public trust, we have the responsibility of holding these individuals accountable and not just relying on our federal counterparts to handle the entirety of the investigation.”

In 2022, the Legislature determined that incidents like these would be investigated by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office. Tindell said he hopes this work will ensure to the public that Mississippi is a safe place to work, live and raise a family.

“We will hold bad actors accountable and justice will be served,” said Tindell.

“Today, a strong message has been sent: abuse of power will not be tolerated in Mississippi,” Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in a statement. “The six officers who committed these heinous acts caused more than physical harm, they severed the vital trust with the people they pledged to protect.”

Current Sheriff of Rankin County, Bryan Bailey, said he hopes the guilty pleas bring some sense of justice to the two victims.

“In one of our first public statement, we said ‘if any deputy of suspect involved in this incident is found to have broken the law, he will be held accountable in accordance with the law.’” I believe today’s guilty pleas show the community that our system of checks and balances is effective,” said Bailey in a statement.

He said the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office will continue to evaluate and modify its policies, procedures and training and have asked for outside assistance from other agencies to evaluate them and make appropriate recommendations. He hopes these actions will prevent something like this from ever happening again.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah:
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