UPDATED Aug. 3, 6:34 p.m. EST
Six former Mississippi law enforcement officers have pleaded guilty to charges related to the torture of two Black men, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Darren LaMarca said in a Thursday news conference.
The announcement comes after federal charges were filed against the former law enforcement officers, who “called themselves ‘The Goon Squad’ because of their willingness to use excessive force and not to report it,” according to a federal charging document.
The charges include conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice, according to online federal court records.
The incident occurred on Jan. 24, when police brutalized Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker during an unwarranted home invasion.
In February, the Justice Department launched a civil rights probe in response to the allegations made by Jenkins and Parker.
In June, the two men filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Rankin County, seeking $400 million in damages for their harrowing ordeal.
According to court documents, five Rankin County sheriff’s deputies and another officer barged into their home.
Once inside, the officers physically assaulted and tormented them using a sex object and Tasers for approximately 90 minutes.
The situation escalated further when one deputy allegedly placed a firearm in Jenkins’ mouth and fired.
The officers referred to the Black men as “boy,” “n-ggers,” and “monkeys,” and slapped and attempted to sodomize them with a sex toy, the charging documents stated.
Further, the officers handcuffed the men and poured milk and syrup on them and forced them to ingest alcohol.
They also poured cooking grease over the victims’ heads, before ordering them to strip naked and shower to wash away the evidence.
The officers accused Jenkins and Parker of “taking advantage of the white woman” who owned the property where they lived.
Former Rankin County Sheriff’s Department employees Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, and Daniel Opdyke, along with former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield, who was off duty at the time of the raid, each face approximately a dozen federal charges related to the incident.
Sheriff Bryan Bailey announced on June 27 that all five deputies involved had either been fired or resigned.
Hartfield was also terminated.
An Associated Press report linking the deputies involved in the home raid to at least four previous violent encounters with Black men since 2019, resulting in two fatalities and one individual sustaining lasting injuries, triggered the investigation.
DOJ officials said the charges against the former officers represent a significant step towards justice for Jenkins, Parker, and other victims who may have suffered at the hands of those meant to protect and serve.