4:00 p.m. Press Conference
A press conference was held by AAG Kristen Clarke, U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca, FBI Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby, and the Office of the Mississippi’s Attorney General on the U.S. Attorney’s Office conference room.
U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca started out the press conference. He brought up that three of these same defendants did a similar act not only in January 2023 but also in December of 2022. He said they are, “equal opportunity criminals” and they abused handcuffed suspects regardless of race.
Kristen Clark at U.S. Dept. of Justice joined the meeting on Skype. She summarized the case and described the details of what happened. She said that these defendants “committed acts of violence all under the authority of the badge which they disgraced.”
She also stated, “The details of the crimes these individuals committed are horrific and have no place in our society today.”
Kristen Clark stated that these types of crimes cause the community to feel like they cannot trust the law enforcement officers who are supposed to serve them.
“The actions of these defendants not only caused physical, emotional, and psychological harm to victims but also caused harm to the entire community who feel like they can’t trust the police officers who are supposed to serve them.”
She concluded by saying that this case is a reminder that although much progress has been made in our state, there is still a lot of work to be done to get rid of law enforcement misconduct.
After stating that these former officers wanted to send a message to the two men they were abusing and said they were not welcome on this side of the Pearl River, Kristen Clark said that Her final quote was,
“We have a message of our own. Abusive law enforcement officers will not be tolerated in any of our communities and we will pursue justice, and accountability, whenever and wherever police misconduct rears its ugly head.”
“Without a relationship of trust between law enforcement officers and those they swear to serve and protect, our fight for justice and against crime is doomed to fail,” said Attorney General Lynn Fitch. “This brutal attack caused more than physical harm to these two individual victims; it severed that vital trust with the people. This abuse of power will not be tolerated. The Attorney General’s Office is committed to delivering justice for these victims and for all Mississippians.”
“The egregious conduct of these individuals is a dark stain on law enforcement and erodes the public’s trust in a profession that does so many great things each and every day,” said Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell. “I am grateful for the hard work of our federal counterparts, which is reflected in today’s outcome. I am also extremely confident in the process by which these cases are now investigated and prosecuted by the State of Mississippi. The work of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Attorney General’s Office will help build public confidence that bad actors such as these will be held accountable at the state level, as well.”
- Former Rankin County Sheriff Deputy Hunter Elward was charged with Aggravated Assault, Home Invasion, and Conspiracy to Commit Obstruction of Justice/Hinder Prosecution.
- Former Rankin County Sheriff Narcotics Investigator Christian Dedmon was charged with Home Invasion and Conspiracy to Commit Obstruction of Justice/Hinder Prosecution.
- Former Rankin County Sheriff Chief Investigator Brett McAlpin was charged with Obstruction of Justice/Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree and Conspiracy to Commit Obstruction of Justice/Hinder Prosecution.
- Former Rankin County Sheriff Lieutenant Jeffrey Middleton was charged with Obstruction of Justice/Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree and Conspiracy to Commit Obstruction of Justice/Hinder Prosecution.
- Former Rankin County Sheriff Deputy Daniel Opdyk was charged with Obstruction of Justice/Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree and Conspiracy to Commit Obstruction of Justice/Hinder Prosecution.
- Former Richland Police Department Narcotics Investigator Joshua Hartfield was charged with Obstruction of Justice/Hindering Prosecution in the First Degree and Conspiracy to Commit Obstruction of Justice/Hinder Prosecution.
Sheriff Bryan Bailey made a statement concerning the incident.
“Deputies of this department are sworn to protect and serve the public and uphold all federal and state laws. We have approximately 230 men and women with this department who report to work every day and perform their duties in accordance with department standards. Based on today’s arrests, five former deputies violated all such standards, their training, and my expectations of them. The badge worn by so many has been tarnished by the criminal acts of these few individuals.
Based on the facts in their guilty pleas, all former deputies lied to me the night of the incident. We have cooperated fully with all outside investigative agencies to uncover the truth and bring justice to the victims. We have also sought assistance from outside agencies and consultants to help us with repairing the trust within our community.
I truly have tried my best to make the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office one of the top departments in Mississippi. This incident and the crimes of these individuals has been devastating not only to the victims but also to the sheriff’s office and the hundreds of men and women that work here. Ultimately, I believe we all want a safe place to live and raise our family. We all also want to have faith and trust in those who wear the sheriff’s badge. You have my sincere promise that I along with every employee at the sheriff’s office will work nonstop to obtain these goals.”
Five former Rankin County deputies and a former Richland police officer involved in the alleged torture, assault, and shooting of two men in the Braxton community in January were in federal court today. They all pled guilty.
Former Rankin deputies Brett McAlpin, Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Daniel Opdyke, Jeffrey Middleton, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield are accused of spending around an hour and a half torturing two black men at a home in Braxton earlier this year.
The attorneys for Michael Jenkins say he was shot in the mouth after the six law enforcement officers spent time beating, assaulting, torturing and tasing him and Eddie Parker. At least one of the men was allegedly assaulted with a sex toy, and they were both allegedly tased repeatedly as the now-former officers played a game to find out whose taser was the strongest, in addition to other alleged forms of torture.
Jenkins lost his tongue in the shooting, in which evidence points to the gun having been inserted in his mouth when it went off.
The FBI opened an investigation into the incident just after the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation’s. It’s routine for MBI to investigate officer-involved shootings, but the FBI comes in when there appears to be some civil rights violation.
State charges are expected to follow.