Rankin County sheriff updates policies after officers tortured 2 Black men

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Amid controversy and public outcry surrounding six Rankin County law enforcement officers beating, torturing, and sexually assaulting two Black men, Sheriff Bryan Bailey has announced new changes to how his department will operate in the future.

The alterations stem from five Rankin County deputies and a Richland police officer, who were involved in a group called the “Goon Squad”, executing a no-knock warrant on a Braxton home on January 24 and using excessive force against Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker.

Officers Hunter Elward, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke, Christian Dedmon, Brett McAlpin, and Joshua Hartfield have all pleaded guilty to their various roles in using sex toys on the two men, stunning them with squad-issued tasers, waterboarding them with alcohol, chocolate syrup, and milk, amongst other heinous actions.

Things took a drastic turn when a gun Elward placed into Jenkins’ mouth discharged, leaving the victim with a broken jaw, lacerated tongue, and severe wounds in his neck. The officers then planted a gun and drugs on the two men in an attempt to cover up their actions, prompting a federal civil rights investigation which revealed all they had done to the victims.

Just over 10 months following the early 2024 incident, Bailey, who has insisted that he will not step down from his position despite calls for his resignation, says significant upgrades have been made within the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office to ensure no incident similar to the one involving five of his former deputies ever occurs in the future.

“This past January, inappropriate conduct from an isolated group of deputies injured citizens in our county and undermined the reputation of this department. The safety and security of our citizens, and visitors, is one of our main objectives, and we take all occurrences of this nature very seriously,” Bailey stated.

“Once the true facts were discovered, we took immediate action to remove the perpetrators from the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department, cooperated fully with the official investigation, and they are being dealt with through the legal system. We didn’t stop there.”

According to Bailey, the department sought assistance from Jeffrey Artis and his team at J. Artis Consulting – who collectively have 50-plus years of experience with the FBI — to implement the following changes:

  • Revamped its patrol policy and procedure manual. Updates can be found here.
  • Updated its compliments/complaints process so that submissions can be made online, in addition to in-person, via telephone, and/or via U.S. Mail.
  • Recruited and hired an internal affairs investigator from outside of the department to help foster impartiality and fairness in reviews.
  • Began the process of expanding its compliance division to include additional IA investigators so that all complaints that rise to the level of serious investigation can be dealt with in a timely manner. 
  • Deputies and jailors recently completed a “color of law” training session taught by Ron Reed and others from the Civil Rights Unit at the FBI headquartered in Washington, D.C.  

“We appreciate the seriousness of what occurred this past January. Even though the prior actions were abnormal and extreme, we will make every effort to ensure that they do not occur in the future,” Bailey said. “Everyone expects to be treated fairly and we will continually strive to improve how we protect and serve our community.”

As for the officers involved in the January incident, the six “Goon Squad” members currently await sentencing for federal charges. A federal judge recently rescheduled sentencing dates to the following:

  • Elward: Jan. 16 at 9 a.m.
  • Middleton: Jan. 16 at 1 p.m.
  • Opdyke: Jan. 18 at 9 a.m.
  • Dedmon: Jan. 18 at 1 p.m.
  • McAlpin: Jan. 19 at 9 a.m.
  • Hartfield: Jan. 19 at 1 p.m.

A complete timeline of events as well as state charges against the officers involved can be found here.

Alyssa Arbuckle contributed to this report.

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