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Amid ‘Goon Squad’ Sentencings, Garland Vows to Hold Officers Accountable For Brutality

Hours after two Rankin County, Miss., sheriff’s deputies who were part of the local “goon squad” received lengthy prison sentences on Tuesday for torturing two Black men, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed to hold law-enforcement officers accountable for acts of brutality against the citizens.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi Judge Tom Lee sentenced former Rankin County Sheriff’s Office deputies Hunter Elward and Jeffrey Middleton to 20 years and 17.5 years, respectively, on federal charges. In August, the men pleaded guilty to state and federal charges tied to the warrantless home raid and vicious attacks on Eddie Terrell Parker and Michael Corey Jenkins in Brandon, Miss., on the night of Jan. 24, 2023.

“These defendants will spend 20 years and 17.5 years in prison for their heinous attack on citizens they had sworn an oath to protect,” Garland said in a statement Tuesday, noting that after the assault, the “defendants gathered outside to come up with a cover story as the victim lay bleeding on the floor.”

“The Justice Department will hold accountable officers who violate constitutional rights, and in so doing, betray the public trust,” the attorney general added.

Third Officer Sentenced

A third officer involved in the attacks, Daniel Opdyke, received a sentence of 17.5 years this morning. The Associated Press reported that the 28-year-old officer “cried profusely as he spoke in court before the judge announced his sentence” and that he told the victims he had reflected on “how I transformed into the monster I became that night.”

“The weight of my actions and the harm I’ve caused will haunt me every day,” he said. “I wish I could take away your suffering.”

The six “goon squad” officers pleaded guilty to state and federal charges in August 2023. 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. AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

The ex-deputies have yet to face sentencing for state charges related to the case.

Federal charges for Elward, Middleton and Opdyke included conspiracy against

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