Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the deputies involved in the alleged beating, tasing, waterboarding and sexual assault of two men, one of whom was allegedly shot in the mouth, have been fired more than five months after the fact based on findings in an internal investigation.
The two alleged victims, Eddie Terrell Parker and Michael Cory Jenkins, have brought a lawsuit for $400 million in damages for the alleged abuse by the officers.
“Deputies involved with this incident were placed on administrative leave pending final investigative findings,” said a release from Sheriff Bryan Bailey. “Due to recent developments, including findings during our internal investigation, those deputies that were still employed at this department have been terminated.”
Parker and Jenkins have accused the deputies of coming into their home during the service of a “knock and talk” and subsequently beating them while they were handcuffed, tasing them dozens of times, waterboarding them with milk, assaulting them with a sex toy found on the property, and shooting Jenkins in the mouth. Allegedly, none of Jenkins teeth were broken, but the bullet allegedly went into the back of his throat and came out from behind his ear.
The release also said the deputies had been put on administrative leave until the outcome of the investigation but did not give a time frame. Prior to Tuesday’s press announcement, Bailey has been mum on the subject, referring all questions back to his initial statement from when the incident, which took place on January 24, went public in February. The sheriff’s department would not take questions on Tuesday.
Sources in the department say Deputy Hunter Elward, the deputy alleged to have pulled the trigger, was the only one who had been put on leave until a week before the firings. Two other officers resigned sometime in the time between the incident and the firings announced Tuesday.
Aside from the routine vague release from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation that they were investigating an officer-involved shooting on January 24 in which someone displayed a weapon and was shot by law enforcement, there has been no release of information on the case from authorities, though Parker and Jenkins’ attorneys have been vocal about their accusations.
Shortly after the first press conference held by the attorneys on the incident in February, a statement was released from Jenkins’ mother.
“They accused my son of displaying a gun and that was their reasoning of shooting him but the witness stated that he didn’t have a gun. The witness told us that he was ‘beat, tased and handcuffed while on his knees,'” she said. “The witness also stated that ‘they went back and forth tasing him to see who’s taser was the strongest.’”
Jenkins also said the gun was inserted in his mouth when the trigger was pulled.
The Department of Justice opened an investigation into the incident shortly after it was made public as well.
Attorneys for Jenkins and Parker named Bailey, Chief Investigator Brett McAlpin, Narcotics Investigator Christian Dedmon, and Elward in the lawsuit. The three other law enforcement officers have not yet been named publicly. It has not been announced who the attorneys for the law enforcement officers are or if they’ll make a statement.
“We cannot, however, confirm or deny any specific facts related to this incident because of active and ongoing investigations,” Bailey said in his release. “We understand that the alleged actions of these deputies has eroded the public’s trust in our department. Rest assured that we will work diligently to restore that trust. We have already taken actions to ensure that we serve and protect the public while making sure the rights of all citizens are protected.”
Bailey said some of the actions that have been taken inside his department include “a detailed analysis of our policies, procedures, and training of all department personnel.”
The department has also brought in a full time compliance officer for monitoring of daily operations and to ensure the department remains compliant with all state and federal law, according to the sheriff.
“It is my privilege to serve the citizens of Rankin County as Sheriff and it has been my daily goal to run one of the best departments in the State of Mississippi,” Bailey said. “I believe in my heart that this department remains one of the best departments in our state and I am committed to doing everything in my power to keep this department on a correct path moving forward. The men and women of this department are public servants who are committed to a bright future for this department and for public safety in Rankin County.”
It has not been made clear whether the case has been sent to grand jury or whether there are charges or indictments coming.