Sentencing postponed again for Mississippi police officers who tortured two Black men

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This combination of photos shows, from top left, former Rankin County sheriff's deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield appearing at the Rankin County Circuit Court in Brandon, Miss., Aug. 14, 2023. A federal judge has, for the second time, postponed sentencing for six former Mississippi law enforcement officers who pleaded guilty to a long list of state and federal charges for torturing two Black men. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge has, for the second time, postponed sentencing for six former Mississippi law enforcement officers who pleaded guilty to a long list of state and federal charges for torturing two Black men.

Sentencing had been set to begin on Jan. 16, but a court hearing schedule shows that U.S. District Judge Tom Lee has pushed back sentencing to March 19. In October, he granted motions from some of the former officers to delay sentencing after their attorneys said they needed more time to evaluate sentencing reports and prepare objections.

The men admitted in August to subjecting Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker to numerous acts of racially motivated, violent torture. In a January 2023 episode, a group of six officers burst into a home without a warrant and assaulted Jenkins and Parker with stun guns, a sex toy and other objects, prosecutors said in court, reading a lengthy description of the abuse.

After a mock execution went awry when Jenkins was shot in the mouth, they devised a coverup that included planting drugs and a gun. False charges stood against Jenkins and Parker for months.

The conspiracy unraveled after one officer told the sheriff he had lied, leading to confessions from the others.

Former Rankin County sheriff’s Deputies Brett McAlpin, Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland city police Officer Joshua Hartfield, who was off duty during the assault, pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state charges, including assault, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

They agreed to prosecutor-recommended sentences ranging from five to 30 years, although the judge isn’t bound by that agreement. Time served for separate convictions at the state level will run concurrently with the potentially longer federal sentences.

The charges followed an investigation by The Associated Press that linked some of the deputies to at least four violent encounters with Black men since 2019 that left two dead and another with lasting injuries.

Prosecutors say some of the officers called themselves the “Goon Squad” because of their willingness to use excessive force and cover up attacks.

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AP-US-Mississippi-Police-Brutality

Jan 10, 2024 10:32 AM – 395 words

By MICHAEL GOLDBERG Associated Press/Report for America

Eds: UPDATES: With AP Photos.

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