Six former Mississippi police officers plead guilty to torturing two Black men

August 14, 2023

Six white former Mississippi police officers pleaded guilty Monday to state charges in the torture of two Black men. 

All six officers—Brett McAlpin, Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Jeffrey Middleton, Joshua Hartfield and Daniel Opdyke—had previously admitted their guilt in a connected federal civil rights case. 

The incident in question happened in January. U.S. prosecutors said the former police officers—without a warrant—kicked down the door of a home in Braxton, Mississippi, where the Black men were living and assaulted them for two hours.

According to the charging document, some of the officers “called themselves ‘The Goon Squad’ because of their willingness to use excessive force and not to report it.”

Five of the officers were Rankin County Sheriff’s deputies while Hartfield was a Richland police officer who was off-duty when the crime occurred. The group have been locally dubbed the “Rankin 6” amid their criminal case. Altogether the six officers were charged with a combined 13 felonies in connection with “the torture and physical abuse” of the two men. 

The victims, Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker, filed a lawsuit in June, alleging the officers illegally entered their home and handcuffed, kicked, waterboarded and tased them and attempted to sexually assault them during a period of nearly two hours. Then, the pair said, one of the deputies put a gun into Jenkins’ mouth and shot him. 

All the while, according to their lawsuit, the cops engaged in the “repeated use of racial slurs” as they engaged in the violence. 

According to prosecutors, the six then devised a cover-up that included planting drugs and a gun, leading to false charges that could have sent one victim to prison for years.

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey announced in June, without being specific, that several deputies had been fired. The next month the Richland Police Department announced that Hartfield had resigned. 

CNN has reached out to attorneys for each of the former officers but did not receive a response from those representing McAlpin and Dedmon. Attorneys for Middleton, Elward and Hartfield declined to comment.

An attorney for Opdyke said the former officer “has admitted to his wrongdoing” and referenced Monday’s guilty plea in Rankin County Circuit Court.

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