Former white police officer gets 20 years in prison in racially motivated torture of 2 Black men that involved stripping, beating up and putting a stun gun in their mouths

Tuesday, March 19, 2024
 – A former Mississippi, USA sheriff's deputy was sentenced Tuesday, March 19 to about 20 years in prison for his part in torturing two Black men.

Police officer, Hunter Elward received a 241-month sentence from U.S. District Judge Tom Lee in a Jackson federal court.

Before sentencing, Judge Lee called Elward's crimes "egregious and despicable," and said a "sentence at the top of the guidelines range is justified - is more than justified." He continued: "It's what the defendant deserves. It's what the community and the defendant's victims deserve."

Another officer, Jeffrey Middleton, will be sentenced on Tuesday afternoon. Four other former law enforcement officers are also set to be sentenced this week by the same judge.

All men face possible decades behind bars after admitting in August that they submitted two Black men to numerous acts of racially motivated torture in January 2023.

The terror attack began on Jan. 24, 2023, with a racist call for extrajudicial violence. A white person phoned Rankin County Deputy Brett McAlpin and complained that two Black men were staying with a white woman at a house in Braxton, Mississippi. McAlpin told Deputy Christian Dedmon, who texted a group of white deputies so willing to use excessive force they called themselves "The Goon Squad."

Once inside the house, they handcuffed Michael Corey Jenkins and his friend Eddie Terrell Parker and poured milk, alcohol and chocolate syrup over their faces. They forced them to strip naked and shower together to conceal the mess. They mocked the victims with racial slurs and shocked them with stun guns.

Elward admitted to shoving a gun into Jenkins' mouth and firing in a "mock execution" that went awry.

The officers then devised a coverup that included planting drugs and a gun.

False charges stood against Jenkins and Parker for months, until one officer told the sheriff he had lied, leading to confessions from others.

Both men, who were sitting in the front row, called for the "stiffest of sentences" for the officers. Their attorney, Malik Shabazz, said they were too traumatized to speak in court, and he read statements on their behalf.

"I am hurt. I am broken," Jenkins wrote in his statement. "They tried to take my manhood from me. They did some unimaginable things to me, and the effects will linger for the rest of my life."

Elward, who wore a dark blue jumpsuit with tape obscuring the name of the facility where he is housed, said before being sentenced that he wouldn't make excuses. He turned to address Jenkins and Parker and looked at them directly.

"I don't want to get too personal. I see you every night, and I can't go back and do what's right," Elward said. "I am so sorry for what I did."

His attorney, Joe Hollomon, said Elward had first witnessed Rankin County deputies turn a blind eye to misconduct in 2017.

"It became the new norm, it became institutional," Hollomon said. "Hunter was initiated into a culture of corruption at the Rankin County's sheriff's office."

Elward was also sentenced Tuesday for his role in an assault on another person that took place weeks before Jenkins and Parker were tortured. For the first time Tuesday, prosecutors identified the victim as Alan Schmidt and read a statement from him detailing what happened to him on Dec. 4, 2022.

During a traffic stop that night, Schmidt said Rankin County deputies accused him of possessing stolen property. They pulled him from the car and beat him. Then, Dedmon forced him to his knees and tried to insert his genitals into Schmidt's mouth, as Elward watched.

"I pray every day that I can forgive them one day and hopefully forget the humiliation and the evil physical and s3xual assault that I endured," Schmidt wrote. "I know that I'm not their only victim, and I pray for each victim that has crossed paths with the Goon Squad members."

The officers charged with torturing Parker and Jenkins include Elward, McAlpin, Dedmon, Middleton and Daniel Opdyke of the Rankin County Sheriff's Department and Joshua Hartfield, a Richland police officer. They have pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state charges.

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