‘Rankin County 6′ plead guilty to state charges for beating, torturing two Black men
Rankin County Sheriff Brian Bailey said he hopes the pleas bring some sense of justice to the two victims.
BRANDON, Miss. (WLBT) - All six former Rankin County deputies entered a guilty plea Monday to state charges of beating and torturing two Black men. They had already pleaded guilty to federal charges.
The six bills of information — one for each former law enforcement officer — list the violations of state law, but do not go into detail like the federal filings from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, first unsealed two weeks ago.
“To my knowledge, never in the history of Mississippi have, in particular, white officers been held to account for brutality against Black victims. To my knowledge, this is the first time that this has occurred. So we’re certainly happy about that,” said Trent Walker, who represents the victims in this case.
Former Rankin County Deputy Hunter Elward, the man who shot Michael Corey Jenkins in the mouth during a night of torture and sexual assault, has been convicted on aggravated assault, home invasion, and conspiracy charges.
Former deputy Christian Dedmon awaits sentencing for home invasion and conspiracy, which suggests he and Elward were the ones who entered the home illegally, kicking off hours of abuse and racial slurs hurled at Jenkins and Eddie Parker.
The other four — former deputies Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield — pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution in the first degree and conspiracy for their role in not only covering up the torture but helping come up with false charges against the two men to try and justify that excessive force.
Rankin County Sheriff Brian Bailey issued the following statement to the media in reference to the pleas.
An extensive search of federal court filings uncovered nearly a dozen other cases of alleged assault and civil rights violations involving at least one of those former officers.
A 3 On Your Side analysis of cases investigated by the Attorney General’s office finds these former officers are the first to ever be successfully charged by Lynn Fitch since her office was given exclusive jurisdiction to prosecute officer-involved shootings last July.
Since that time, of 19 people killed by police over the last year, only four have been resolved by Fitch’s office.
In three cases, AG spokesperson Debbee Hancock said the use of force was justified.
In one case, a grand jury refused to indict, despite Fitch pursuing charges.
On Monday, state prosecutors clarified the six former officers’ plea agreements.
Circuit Judge Steve Ratcliff, who will preside over the case, does not have to accept those requested sentences, however.
Any state prison time would run concurrently with the federal jail time those former officers would receive as well, which they’ll learn in November.
Below is a breakdown of the plea agreements the Attorney General’s office has submitted and the former officers have agreed upon.
|Brett McAlpin||Hindering prosecution in the first degree, conspiracy||Fifteen years in MDOC custody with ten years suspended|
|Hunter Elward||Aggravated assault, burglary/home invasion, conspiracy||Twenty years in MDOC custody with five years suspended|
|Christian Dedmon||Burglary/home invasion, conspiracy||Fifteen years in MDOC custody with five years suspended, and five years in post-release supervision; must surrender law enforcement certificate|
|Jeffrey Middleton||Hindering prosecution in the first degree, conspiracy||Fifteen years in MDOC custody with seven years suspended|
|Daniel Opdyke||Hindering prosecution in the first degree, conspiracy||Fifteen years in MDOC custody with ten years suspended|
|Joshua Hartfield||Hindering prosecution in the first degree, conspiracy||Fifteen years in MDOC custody with ten years suspended, and five years in post-release supervision; most surrender law enforcement certificate|
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