Mississippi Officers Sentenced for Racially-Motivated Torture of Black Men

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Two former Mississippi sheriff’s deputies who were part of a rogue group called “The Good Squad” were sentenced to lengthy prison terms for the racially motivated torture and sexual abuse of two black men. The sentencing, which took place in Jackson, is a step toward justice for the victims whose rights were violated.

The former officers were sentenced to over a decade in prison. The case stems from an incident that occurred on January 24, 2023, in which six members of the “Goon Squad” brutally assaulted the two men.

Two white former Mississippi sheriff’s deputies who belonged to a group calling itself “the Goon Squad” were sentenced on Tuesday to lengthy prison terms for U.S. civil rights violations and other felonies stemming from their torture and sexual abuse of two Black men.

Hunter Elward, 31, received a prison sentence of 20 years and Jeffrey Middleton, 46, was sentenced to 17-1/2 years in back-to-back proceedings in a federal courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Both pleaded guilty with four other former law enforcement officers last August to multiple felony offenses, including civil rights conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

The four co-defendants were scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday and Thursday.

The officers admitted to their decision to use excessive force on their victims. On top of the physical and sexual abuse, the officers also carried out a mock execution that caused grievous injuries to Jenkins. The assault lasted for about two hours.

The case drew national attention due to the heinous nature of the officers’ crimes. The victims later filed a $400 million federal civil rights lawsuit against Rankin County. As part of their guilty pleas, the officers also confessed to state charges as well.

During the assault, the officers subjected their victims to various types of violent abuse as they mocked them with racial slurs.

The Justice Department charged these officers for violating the civil rights of two men, after an incident in which they beat, tortured, and sexually assaulted their victims:

Warning: the following contains graphic content

Two federal criminal informations were unsealed today charging six former Mississippi law enforcement officers with a total of 16 felonies stemming from the torture and physical abuse of three Rankin County residents in two separate unrelated incidents. Those 16 felonies 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.

In federal court this morning, six defendants, five former members of the Rankin County, Mississippi, Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) – Chief Investigator Brett McAlpin, 52, Narcotics Investigator Christian Dedmon, 28, Lieutenant Jeffrey Middleton, 46, Deputy Hunter Elward, 31, Deputy Daniel Opdyke, 27 – and one former member of the Richland, Mississippi, Police Department – Narcotics Investigator Joshua Hartfield, 31 – pleaded guilty to all charges against them.

The defendants admitted that on Jan. 24, without a warrant or any exigent circumstances, they kicked in the door and entered a home in Braxton, Rankin County, Mississippi where two Black men, M.J. and E.P., were residing.  The defendants handcuffed and arrested the men without probable cause to believe they had committed any crime, called them racial slurs, and warned them to stay out of Rankin County. Further, the defendants punched and kicked the men, tased them 17 times, forced them to ingest liquids, and assaulted them with a dildo. During the incident, Dedmon fired his gun twice to intimidate the men.

At the conclusion of the incident, Elward surreptitiously removed a bullet from the chamber of his gun, forced the gun into M.J.’s mouth and pulled the trigger. The unloaded gun clicked but did not fire. Elward racked the slide, intending to dry-fire a second time. When Elward pulled the trigger, the gun discharged. The bullet lacerated M.J.’s tongue, broke his jaw and exited out of his neck.

After torturing the two men, the officers did not bother to offer medical aid. Instead, they went outside of the home and began concocting a scheme to cover up their actions. They planned to plant a gun on one of the men, destroy surveillance footage, falsifying drug evidence, file fake reports, and eventually charge one of the victims with crimes he did not commit. The officers even went so far as to threaten to kill other officers who witnessed their actions, if they spoke out.

The other four officers are still awaiting sentencing, which is expected to occur shortly. This will wrap up a case that has continued for over year. In this case, it appears justice is being served against the officers who abused their authority.

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