Richland officer implicated in alleged abuse of 2 Black men in Rankin County
RICHLAND, Miss. (WLBT) - A Richland officer has now been implicated in the alleged beating and sexual assault of two Black men in Rankin County.
In a letter to the community on Monday, Richland Chief of Police Nick McLendon identified the officer as Joshua Hartfield, who was off-duty when the alleged incident took place on January 24, 2023.
Six Rankin County deputies are also accused of what attorneys say was a racially motivated attack against the two African American men, Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Parker.
Three of those Rankin County deputies have been named: Hunter Elward, Brett McAlpin, and Christian Dedmon. The three others have only been identified as John Does 1-3.
The deputies allegedly involved in the incident have since been fired or resigned.
Hospital records show that Jenkins received a gunshot wound to the face. Malik Shabazz, an attorney for Jenkins and Parker, stated that the two men were allegedly punched and tased for 90 minutes.
Shabazz also accused the deputies of sexually abusing the men during the incident.
“We must express our deepest disappointment that a member of our department is claimed to be involved in a situation that goes against our department’s commitment to serve and protect the public,” the letter to the community stated.
Officer Hartfield has been placed on administrative leave, subjected to disciplinary action, and subsequently tendered his resignation from the Richland Police Department, McLendon said.
A 3 On Your Side investigation uncovered no body camera footage from the incident existed and that there were wide gaps from the time the cameras were turned off to the time they were again activated.
The letter to the community can be read in its entirety below:
It is with profound sadness and heartfelt regret that we must confirm that former Officer Joshua Hartfield, while off duty, has been implicated in an incident occurring in Rankin County, Mississippi on January 24, 2023. We must express our deepest disappointment that a member of our department is claimed to be involved in a situation that goes against our department’s commitment to serve and protect the public.
Upon receiving the information regarding the allegations against Hartfield, immediate action was taken in line with our strict standards of responsibility and accountability. Hartfield was placed on administrative leave, subjected to disciplinary action, and subsequently tendered his resignation from the Richland Police Department.
If proven factual, this incident taints the respected badge that symbolizes the noble cause of all law enforcement, a symbol held dear by countless officers who strive tirelessly each day to uphold the highest levels of integrity, dedication, and selfless service to others. We are reminded once again that our mandate to serve and protect is not just a call to action, but a sacred trust that requires our unwavering commitment.
In my capacity as a leader, I carry a deep love for this profession and remain steadfastly dedicated to promoting constitutional, proactive, accountable policing. This mission statement has always been at the heart of our organization.
While this incident has been a stern reminder of the grave responsibility we bear, it is essential to recognize that the actions of a single individual, in his or her personal capacity, do not define the collective character of our law enforcement officers. Every day, they rise to the daunting challenge of combating darkness and protecting our community with unparalleled courage and unwavering integrity.
Though it’s a stark reality that some may falter and succumb to the shadows, the overwhelming majority of our officers stand strong, while bravely confronting the darkness in this world. They do this not because it’s their job, but because it’s their calling, and they do it with an ironclad resolve and the utmost integrity.
As we navigate through this difficult time, we reaffirm our commitment to holding ourselves accountable. Just as we bring criminals to justice, so too must we hold ourselves to the same standards and answer for our actions.
In the face of this challenging ordeal, our resolve remains unshaken. We continue to march forward, guided by our duty, and driven by our collective commitment to serve, protect, and uphold justice.
Our department will continue to fully cooperate with all agencies involved in the ongoing investigation.
Shabazz issued this statement following the decision.
Today’s announcement on the identification and firing of the sixth law enforcement officer involved in the January 24, 2023, Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker tortui-e and shooting case in Rankin County is welcomed news.
Deputy Joshua Hartsfield, of the Richland Police Department, Chief Nick McLendon announced “one of his officers, while off-duty, was allegedly involved in the situation in Rankin County that led to the resignation of one deputy and the firings of four others. Chief McLendon also stated that Joshua Hartsfield “was allegedly riding along with the deputies.”
Black Lawyers for Justice commends Chief McClendon for taking the first step toward justice in his well-written letter. The next step in the fight for justice for the victims is the criminal prosecution of the rogue officers involved in the actions of the notorious Rankin County death squad.
All citizens of Mississippi regardless of race, creed, or color are repudiating the criminal acts of these rogue deputies. No decent law enforcement officer wants to be affiliated with the horrific, malicious, and sadistic acts which occun·ed against Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker.” - Black Lawyers for Justice - Malik Z Shabazz, Esq - Lead Counsel and Mississippi Local Counsel Trent Walker.
Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please click here to report it and include the headline of the story in your email.
Copyright 2023 WLBT. All rights reserved.