6 former Mississippi law enforcement officers who pleaded guilty to torturing 2 Black men to be sentenced this week

6 former Mississippi law enforcement officers who pleaded guilty to torturing 2 Black men to be sentenced this week - Crime and Courts - News

Former Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers to be Sentenced for Torturing Two Black Men

Six former law enforcement officers from Mississippi who admitted their involvement in the torture and abuse of two African American men will be sentenced this week. The proceedings are expected to begin on Tuesday with the sentencing of Hunter Elward and Jeffrey Middleton, followed by Christian Dedmon and Daniel Opdyke on Wednesday, and Brett McAlpin and Joshua Hartfield on Thursday.

Details of the incident that transpired in Braxton, a town southeast of Jackson, came to light after Eddie Parker and Michael Jenkins – both African American men – filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in June 2023. Subsequent investigations by federal prosecutors corroborated many of the allegations, leading to the officers’ guilty pleas in August for a combined total of 13 felonies.

Allegations of Torture and Racial Motivation

Former Rankin County Sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Brett McAlpin, Christian Dedmon, Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland Police Department officer Joshua Hartfield, in addition to Elward, pleaded guilty to federal charges that included conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, and obstruction of justice. The charges stemmed from the January 2023 incident in which Parker and Jenkins were subjected to hours of physical and emotional torment.

Maximum Sentences Sought

Federal prosecutors are seeking the maximum sentences for the officers. Elward, who faces the most serious charges, including discharging a firearm during a violent crime, could spend up to 30 years in prison. McAlpin, Middleton, Dedmon, Opdyke, and Hartfield each face up to 20 years in prison.

Victims Speak Out

During a news conference on Monday in Jackson, Parker and Jenkins, accompanied by their families and attorneys, expressed their hope for the maximum sentences for all six officers. They asserted that the officers’ actions against them were motivated by race.

Police Brutality under Scrutiny

The case, which includes disturbing details, comes at a time when police use of force, particularly against people of color, is under increased scrutiny nationwide.

Allegations in the Lawsuit

According to their lawsuit, Jenkins and Parker alleged that the officers illegally entered their home, handcuffed them, kicked them, waterboarded them, tasered them, and attempted to sexually assault them. They also claimed that the officers used racial slurs during the assaults.

Ongoing Civil Rights Litigation

Shabazz, lead attorney for Parker and Jenkins, announced during the news conference that their civil rights litigation was ongoing and the issues raised in the lawsuit “have not been resolved.”

Separate Incident Charges

Three of the officers – Dedmon, Elward, and Opdyke – also pleaded guilty to felonies related to a separate incident in December 2022. These charges will also be addressed during this week’s sentencing proceedings.

State Charges Pending

The six former officers also face state charges stemming from the January 2023 incident. Each officer was charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, and Dedmon was also charged with home invasion and Elward with home invasion and aggravated assault. McAlpin, Middleton, Opdyke, and Hartfield were also charged with first-degree obstruction of justice. They await sentencing on these counts.