Skip to content
Two more officers in “Goon...

Two more officers in “Goon Squad” case sentenced to prison

By: Jeremy Pittari - March 20, 2024

This combination of photos shows, from top left, former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield appearing at the Rankin County Circuit Court in Brandon, Miss., Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. The six white former Mississippi law officers pleaded guilty to state charges on Monday for torturing two Black men in a racist assault that ended with a deputy shooting one victim in the mouth. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

  • Christian Dedmon was given 40 years while Daniel Opdyke will serve 17.5 years in federal prison.

Two more officers received sentences during the second day of hearings in a case that involved six former Mississippi law enforcement officers who pled guilty related to their involvement in a constitutional rights violation where they illegally entered the home of two black men, abused, tortured and sexually assaulted them while using racial slurs.

Wednesday, Daniel Opdyke received 210 months in federal prison, or 17.5 years, for his part in the crime, while Christian Dedmon received 40 years in federal prison for his more brutal and vicious part in the crime.

Both sentences will be served concurrently with the anticipated sentences from the state court.

Attorneys for both men asked for lighter sentences based on separate factors, but the full sentences were imposed by Judge Tom S. Lee in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. 

Three of the six officers involved in the incident were part of a self proclaimed group known as the “Goon Squad.” According to court records, the members of the Goon Squad included Rankin County Sheriff’s Department members Lt. Jeffrey Middleton as the leader, along with deputy Hunter Elward and deputy Daniel Opdyke. The three other law enforcement officers involved in the case are Rankin County deputies Christian Dedmon and Brett McAlpin, and Richland Police officer Joshua Hartfield.

The crime came to light after Dedmon admitted to what occurred, producing text messages to investigators showing the planning stage of the events that unfolded on January 24, 2023. On that date Middleton, Elward, Opdyke, Dedmon, McAlpin, and Hartfield made plans to enter the Braxton home without a warrant based on complaints by neighbors that black men were staying in the home of a white woman and acting suspiciously.

While approaching the home that night the men intentionally avoided cameras placed in the front and forcefully entered before beating, torturing and sexually assaulting two black men with a sex toy found inside.

Eddie Parker and Michael Jenkins, the victims who were living in the home at the time assisting a female friend who owns the home, were assaulted and tortured, after being handcuffed. They were also humiliated by the officers when food was thrown on them and were called racial slurs. After the initial assault, they were forced to shower to cover up the abuse.

Also during the assault, Elward reportedly dry fired a gun while holding it in Jenkins’ mouth, removed the gun, racked it and fired it again. The second time the trigger was pulled it discharged a bullet that went through Jenkins’ tongue and broke his jaw. During the assault the men were called racial slurs.

While Jenkins lay on the floor bleeding from his gunshot wound, the six men devised a cover story and worked to place false charges on the victims using drugs seized from an unrelated case and a gun that did not belong to either victim. The false charges lodged against Parker and Jenkins were later dropped. 

Because the case came to light after Opdyke came forward in May of last year, his attorney, Jeffrey Reynolds with Reynolds Kirschberg Law, asked the judge for leniency. His argument was that had Opdyke not come forward and produced those text messages, the six officers would probably have never pled guilty. Reynolds added that the text messaging app used in the correspondence between the six men, WhatsApp, uses encryption so requests to a cellphone provider as part of an investigation would not have provided the evidence needed to obtain the guilty pleas. During his statement, Opdyke said he came forward out of guilt of what he had done, and apologized to both victims and their families. 

Reynolds asked the court for a sentence for Opdyke of 7 years, instead of the 17.5 recommended by the United States Attorney’s Office. However, Judge Lee sided with the U.S. Attorney’s request for a full sentence of 17.5 years. 

The sentencing hearing for Dedmon also ended with Judge Lee opting for the full sentence, this time for 40 years due to the brutality he perpetuated on Jenkins and Parker. Dedmon’s counsel, Michael Cory, asked for a lesser sentence because the other sentences issued so far were 15 to 20 years less than the requested 40 years, and Dedmon was not one of the higher ranking officers on scene.   

But Judge Lee still sided with the U.S. Attorney’s recommendation. 

“Beside McAlpin and Middleton, largely as their role as superior officers, you, Mr. Dedmon, committed the most egregious acts on Parker, Jenkins and Schmidt. The most shocking, brutal and cruel acts imaginable,” Lee said before handing down the judgement of 40 years. 

Judge Lee’s comment during sentencing reflected a third victim of Dedmon’s who came forward while he was employed with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department. In that statement the victim, Alan Schmidt, described how on December 24, 2022, he was pulled over for an expired tag by Elward, who subsequently called Dedmon to come to the scene. As U.S. Attorney’s Office Chief of Criminal Chief U.S. Attorney Erin Chalk read from the statement, describing how Dedmon arrived and took Schmidt to his patrol car and assaulted him, before taking Elward’s sidearm and firing it at the ground. Schmidt was later taken to a home away from Elward where Dedmon continued the assault, which included Dedmon grabbing Schmidt’s genitalia, all in an alleged attempt to locate stolen property Schmidt did not have.

Dedmon’s sentencing hearing saw Parker break from his previous protocol of allowing his attorney to read his victim statement, and instead Parker addressed the court personally, at times turning to Dedmon.

In that statement, he admitted there were times in his life where he got into trouble, but when he saw Dedmon illegally enter the house holding his flashlight he knew what was about to happen. 

“It made me realize trouble will find you. You’ll find evil. But that night I saw the devil come to me, I saw the devil in my face in my home, where I was supposed to be safe, where I was supposed to be out of trouble,” Parker told the court.

An adjustment to Jenkins’ statement was also made during Dedmon’s sentencing hearing, recalling that deputy Dedmon was the most aggressive, vicious and sickest of all six involved in their torture and abuse. 

During Dedmon’s statement in court, he said he regretted firing the gun at the ground to scare Schmidt into disclosing the location of items stolen from his family members, but discounted the sexual assault claims made by Schmidt. Dedmon also apologized to Parker and Jenkins for his actions the night of January 24, 2023, but did not discount the sexual assault claims made by those men that involved the use of a sex toy found in the home.

The last two men involved in the incident, McAlpin and Hartfield, will be sentenced on Thursday, March 21, 2024.

About the Author(s)
author profile image

Jeremy Pittari

Jeremy Pittari is a lifelong resident of the Gulf Coast. Born and raised in Slidell, La., he moved to South Mississippi in the early 90s. Jeremy earned an associate in arts from Pearl River Community College and went on to attend the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor's of arts in journalism. A week after Hurricane Katrina, he started an internship as a reporter with the community newspaper in Pearl River County. After graduation, he accepted a full-time position at that news outlet where he covered the recovery process post Katrina in Pearl River and Hancock Counties. For nearly 17 years he wrote about local government, education, law enforcement, crime, business and a variety of other topics. Email Jeremy: