Activists call for Rankin Co. Sheriff to resign after officers beat, torture two Black men

Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 10:34 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RANKIN CO., Miss. (WLBT) - Calls for Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey’s resignation are growing louder.

Civil rights activists also asked for the Department of Justice to continue its federal investigation into the sheriff’s department.

This comes after the guilty pleas of six former Rankin County Law Enforcement officers.

Five of the men are former Rankin County Deputies: Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, and Daniel Opdyke. Joshua Hartfield is a former Richland police officer.

On Wednesday, a group of activists held a press conference in Rankin County stating that they are happy the men are going to be held accountable for their actions, but they don’t believe that’s enough.

They also want Sheriff Bryan Bailey to be held accountable for allowing this to happen under his watch.

”Sheriff Bailey, I know your voice was cracking last week buddy, and you were sitting there and crying, he said he didn’t know anything about it, ‘I didn’t know nothing about it.’ I’d be a fool to think that,” said John Barnett, who’s a spokesperson for Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Parker and the founder of the organization True Healing Under God.

During the press conference, Barnett expressed that he believes there should be a new leader running the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department.

”Sheriff Bailey you are not performing,” said Barnett. “Your leadership equals bad leadership, so we’re asking that you step down.”

It all stems from an incident that happened in January.

The six former Rankin County law enforcement officers admitted that they beat and tortured Jenkins and Parker for more than an hour.

Hunter Elward admitted that he shot Jenkins in the mouth.

Afterward, the men tried to cover up their crime by planting meth and a gun at the scene.

”This incident is showing us the pattern and recipe that they’ve been using for years,” said Charles Muhammad, who’s a civil rights activist.

The five men who worked at the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department during the time of the incident called themselves the “Goon Squad.” Although the men worked for his department, Bailey said they lied to him about the incident, and he had no idea this type of activity was happening.

During his press conference last Thursday, Bailey said he was in disbelief by the actions of his then deputies.

Sheriff Bailey also expressed that he does not plan to step down from his position.

While the sheriff maintains he did not know the men were abusing their power, some activists said they are not buying it.

“The fact that you say that this was just amazing, you’ve been knowing these men almost a lifetime, or you’ve been knowing them for several years, however, you want to explain it, and you didn’t know that they were capable of this, that in of itself is a lie,” said Angela English, President of Rankin County’s Chapter of the NAACP. “You have received several complaints about these individuals. They have been involved in other incidents.”

”The mere fact that you didn’t know is the reason why we are demanding that immediately you be relieved of your duty,” said Kareem Muhammad,” who’s part of the Local Organizing Committee of Mississippi. “For if you don’t know if incidents like this going on in your county, then you need not be a part of this sheriff’s department.”

Barnett said he believes more deputies could potentially be a part of the “Goon Squad,” that’s why he contacted the Department of Justice asking them to continue investigating Bailey and his department.

”Just because we got six of the dumbest, dumbest cops, deputies ever in the history of Mississippi, just because we got them fired, I’d be a fool to think there weren’t some more out there,” said Barnett. “I’d be a fool to think that. It’s a squad, so We are coming to disassemble, dismantle, and terminate the ‘Goon Squad.’”

The former officers pled guilty to federal charges last Thursday.

They will be in court again on Monday, August 14, to face state charges. Sheriff Bailey is expected to address the media after their court appearance.

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.