Third ‘Goon Squad’ deputy is sentenced to 17.5 years in prison for racist torture of two Black men

Two more former police officers have been sentenced for torturing two Black men during a raid on a home in January 2023, with one crying as he told the victims he had become a “monster” that night.

Daniel Opdyke was handed a 17.5-year sentence on Wednesday morning before Christian Dedmon was jailed for 40 years over his part in the case later in the day.

On Tuesday, fellow former Rankin County Sheriff’s Office deputies Hunter Elward and Jeffrey Middleton were jailed.

The group, which also included Brett McAlpin and Joshua Hartfield, broke into a home in Braxton, where Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker were staying, without a warrant.

They then subjected the pair to several hours of torture which included tasering, waterboarding and assault with a dildo, before culminating in Mr Jenkins being shot in the mouth by Elward.

At his sentencing on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that Opdyke said his time behind bars had given him time to reflect on his part.

“The weight of my actions and the harm I’ve caused will haunt me every day,” Opdyke told the victims, weeping as he spoke. “I wish I could take away your suffering.”

When Dedmon was sentenced, the AP said he did not look at the victims but said he would never forgive himself for the pain he caused.

Mr Jenkins responded through his lawyer, describing Dedmon as “ the most aggressive, sickest and most wicked” of the six individuals.

The two men’s apologies came after Elward turned to the victims and apologised on Tuesday morning, before being jailed for around 20 years.

“I’m so sorry,” the former officer told Mr Jenkins and Mr Parker, CNN reported. “I don’t want to get too personal with you, Michael.

“There’s no telling what you’ve seen. I’m so sorry that I caused that. I hate myself for it. I hate that I gave you that. I accept all responsibility.”

Mr Jenkins reportedly nodded, while Mr Parker stood up and said: “We forgive you, man”.

At a later hearing on Tuesday afternoon, Jeffrey Middleton was also sentenced to 17 years in prison for his part.

The group, who called themselves the “Goon Squad” for their use of excessive force, called the pair racial slurs during the January 2023 raid, telling them to stay out of Raskin County.

Mr Jenkins and Mr Parker were also punched, kicked, tasered 17 times, assaulted with a dildo and forced to “ingest liquids”. Dedmon also fired his gun twice to intimidate the men.

When that was over, Elward removed a bullet from his gun and then placed the device in Mr Jenkins’s mouth before pulling the trigger. Elward then racked the gun, intending to dry-fire for a second time but instead, the firearm discharged, lacerated Mr Jenkins’s tongue and broke his jaw.

Elward faced the most serious charge from the January 2023 attack – discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

While he faced up to 30 years in prison, the judge opted for an approximately 20-year sentence.

After Elward fired his gun during the incident last January, and the victim lay on the floor bleeding, the defendants didn’t provide medical aid.

Instead, the Department of Justice said, they gathered outside the home to come up with a false cover story.

Part of that cover included planting a gun on Mr Jenkins, destroying surveillance footage and submitting fake drug evidence to the crime lab.

The victims then filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in June 2023, with the indictments unsealed in August.

It was then that the former officers pleaded guilty to a combination of 13 felonies.

“No human being should ever be subjected to the kind of torturous, traumatising and horrific acts of violence that were carried out by these law enforcement officers,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in August.

“The physical and emotional impact of their crimes resulted from a calculated, deliberate, and egregious course of conduct that required a significant response from authorities.”

Hartfield and McAlpin are due to be sentenced on Thursday.

Despite the words of forgiveness, Mr Parker said in his victim’s impact statement that the crime will haunt him forever.

“The very bad actions of the Rankin County ‘Goon Squad’ severely impacted me and left a scar on me forever,” Mr Parker’s statement, read by attorney Malik Shabazz, said.

“I don’t know if I will ever be able to sleep at night. I fear I will be attacked again and even killed.”

Mr Jenkins added that he did not think he would ever be the person he was before the incident.

In a statement following the guilty pleas last summer, US Attorney General Merrick B Garland said the Department of Justice would hold officers who abuse public trust to account.

“The defendants in this case tortured and inflicted unspeakable harm on their victims, egregiously violated the civil rights of citizens who they were supposed to protect, and shamefully betrayed the oath they swore as law enforcement officers,” Mr Garland said.

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