Deputies plead guilty to second crime Thursday, in-custody death under scrutiny

Therese Apel

Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Daniel Opdyke

On Thursday, it was practically lost in the wash that after the group of six former Rankin County law enforcement officers pleaded guilty to 13 counts in the case of the torture and shooting of Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker, three of them pleaded guilty in a second case.

Former Criminal Investigator Brett McAlpin, former Lieutenant Jeffrey Middleton, former Narcotics Officer Christian Dedmon, former deputies Daniel Opdyke and Hunter Elward, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield pleaded guilty on Thursday and will be sentenced in November.

They face a court date for state charges in the same incident on August 14.

It’s possible in today’s society that it was less important to the powers that be to get the word out in the case of a white man who was also brutalized by men from the Rankin County group that called themselves “The Goon Squad,” or it may be that it was because there were fewer defendants, but it seemed strange that it barely got more than a mention during the media attention surrounding the Parker and Jenkins case.

Federal documents say very little about the incident. What is known is that former Rankin County deputies Dedmon, Elward, and Opdyke are accused of using unreasonable force on a victim only mentioned by the court as A.S.

Count One of the bill of information says that Dedmon punched, kicked and tased A.S., using an unnamed dangerous weapon. Meanwhile, Elward and Opdyke allegedly failed to intervene and prevent A.S. from being assaulted even when there was oportunity to do so. A.S. was injured during the course of the attack, documents say. All three deputies pleaded guilty to that charge.

Count Two states that just like in the case of Jenkins and Parker, Dedmon allegedly fired his weapon in order to scare A.S. and coerce a confession.

In Count Three, Dedmon is accused of brandishing and discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. Both Count Two and Count Three are Dedmon’s alone, and he pleaded guilty to both.

Both the A.S. case and Parker and Jenkins’ case have been considered by the court to be criminal acts.

But the Goon Squad’s stories don’t stop there.

In 2021, Elward was involved when 29-year-old Damien Cameron died.

Elward’s report, the report of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, and Cameron’s mother’s story were all different.

Photos of Cameron’s face showed he was badly beaten, and Elward’s story did detail an extensive struggle between the two. Elward told of a combative suspect who tried to punch him and tried to knock the taser out of his hand. In Elward’s story, Cameron ran into the woods and back out, into the house and into a room where he tried to pull his taser prongs out. When they finally got him to the car, Elward said, he was still resisting, so there was more tasing and violence.

Within the hour, deputies realized that Cameron, who had been shut in the police vehicle, was unresponsive.

MBI’s report said Cameron “collapsed during a pursuit.”

Cameron’s mother said Elward and another deputy kneeled on her son’s back and neck for an extended period of time, even as he told them he couldn’t breathe. She told reporters that a deputy asked her if her son had any medical conditions and seemed upset when she said he didn’t.

A detective’s report from that day said Elward and the other deputy were muddy and sitting on the bumper of a vehicle when he arrived. Elward’s report said they had administered CPR to Cameron until the ambulance arrived.

There are groups pushing authorities to review Cameron’s death once more, and talk that doing that is a given after the Parker and Jenkins case.

At Darkhorse Press, we have gotten several comments and emails alleging misconduct by members of the Goon Squad. We are researching to determine the merit of each one. Please feel free to let us know if you had a violent run-in with any of these deputies or Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, or Josh Hartfield at


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