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Former Mississippi Law Officers, Part of ‘Goon Squad,’ Sentenced for Abusing Black Men

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Former Mississippi Law Officers, Part of 'Goon Squad,' Sentenced for Abusing Black Men

Six former law enforcement officers from Mississippi, part of a goon squad, were sentenced in state court on Wednesday to 15 to 45 years behind bars for the prolonged abuse of two black men. These sentences will be served concurrently with their federal sentences, which were issued last month and range from 10 to 40 years.

The ex-officers, including five former deputies from Rankin County Sheriff’s Office and one former officer from Richland Police Department, had pleaded guilty after subjecting Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker to a brutal ordeal in January 2023.

During the sentencing in a Rankin County circuit court, it was revealed that the group of white officers had unlawfully entered a home in Braxton without a warrant. They unleashed racist verbal assaults, deployed Tasers on the handcuffed the black men, inflicted physical beatings, and even shot Jenkins in the mouth.

Prior to the sentencing, Jenkins recounted the ordeal in a statement delivered by his attorney, Malik Shabazz, detailing the racial slurs hurled at them and the abandonment after the shooting. He lamented the lasting impact of the incident, declaring, “They killed me. I just didn’t die.”

Each ex-officer faced state charges of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice. Additionally, Dedmon and Elward faced charges of home invasion, and Elward was also charged with aggravated assault.

While the state sentences will be served concurrently with the federal ones, some officers will spend more time incarcerated due to the state charges. Elward, for instance, received a 25-year state sentence to run concurrently with his 20-year federal term.

Victims Speak Out: Seeking Closure and Reform After ‘Goon Squad’ Ordeal

The sentencing hearing took place in Brandon, the seat of Rankin County, just across from a Confederate monument, not far from where the abuse occurred. The NAACP has initiated a petition for the removal of this monument, viewing it as a symbol of the county’s racist history.

Following the hearing, Jenkins and Parker expressed satisfaction with the sentences, signaling relief that the case had reached a resolution. They pledged to advocate for change in Mississippi and serve as voices for other potential victims of police brutality.

The abuse occurred on January 24, 2023, in Braxton, southeast of Jackson, and was uncovered after Jenkins and Parker filed a federal lawsuit seeking $400 million in damages, which is still pending. The officers, part of a self-proclaimed “Goon Squad,” allegedly targeted the men without cause, using excessive force and racial intimidation.

The state charges, alongside the federal ones, aimed to hold the officers accountable for violating the victims’ rights and abusing their authority. Attorney General Lynn Fitch emphasized the severe impact of their actions on the victims and the community’s trust in law enforcement.

The case has sparked calls for reform within the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department, with demands for accountability and transparency. Family members of the victims have urged the removal of Sheriff Bryan Bailey from office, seeking a thorough overhaul of the department to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Despite the sentencing, the scars left by the abuse endure, casting a shadow over both the victims and the broader community. Fitch stressed the need for collective efforts to restore trust in law enforcement and ensure justice for all.

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