2 former Mississippi 'Goon Squad' deputies sentenced to prison in torture and abuse of Black men

Two former Mississippi sheriff's deputies who were members of a self-described "Goon Squad" were sentenced to federal prison Wednesday after admitting they tortured and abused two Black men in a racist attack that left one of the victims seriously injured.

Daniel Ready Opdyke, a former deputy with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department, was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison.

And former deputy Christian Lee Dedmon was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Both men, along with four other law enforcement officers, pleaded guilty last year to felony charges that included civil rights conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

The charges stemmed from an interaction with Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker in January 2023, when the group of six officers burst into their Rankin County home without a warrant and assaulted them with stun guns, forced them to ingest liquids, punched and kicked them, and called them racial slurs.

Dedmon fired his gun twice during the incident in an attempt to intimidate the victims, the Department of Justice said in a 2023 news release.

Parker, via a statement read by his lawyer, told the court that he was "severely impacted" by what happened and it "left a scar that will last forever."

"I don’t know if I will ever sleep again at night," Parker said in his statement. "I am in therapy now and in the future. My mind is all messed up and my emotions are all over the map."

The incident took place on Jan. 24, 2023, when a white person called Rankin County Deputy Brett McAlpin and complained that Jenkins and Parker were staying with a white woman at a house in Braxton, Mississippi, according to The Associated Press.

McAlpin told Dedmon, who texted a group of white deputies who called themselves "The Goon Squad." The Justice Department said members "were known for using excessive force and not reporting it."

The group handcuffed Jenkins and Parker, poured chocolate syrup, alcohol and milk on their faces, and then made them undress and shower together to hide the mess, the AP reported. They punched and kicked the victims, forced them to ingest liquids, assaulted them with a sex toy, shocked them with a stun gun 17 times, called them racial slurs and told Jenkins and Parker to stay out of Rankin County, the Justice Department said.

Image: Michael Corey Jenkins, Eddie Terrell Parker (Rogelio V. Solis / AP)
Image: Michael Corey Jenkins, Eddie Terrell Parker (Rogelio V. Solis / AP)

One deputy, Hunter Elward, removed a bullet from the chamber of his gun, placed it into Jenkins' mouth and pulled the trigger, according to the Justice Department. The unloaded gun clicked but did not fire.

Elward then "racked the slide, intending to dry-fire a second time" but this time the gun discharged and the bullet lacerated Jenkins' tongue, broke his jaw and exited through his neck, the department said.

Jenkins still has trouble speaking and eating.

The Justice Department said the officers did not provide medical aid to Jenkins. They instead went outside "to devise a false cover story" and then planted a gun on Jenkins, destroyed video evidence, submitted false drug evidence to the crime lab, and filed false reports.

Jenkins and Parker were arrested on false charges that were later dismissed.

Jenkins, via a statement read by his lawyer, told the court that Jan. 24, 2023, "was the worst day of my life."

"I’m hurt, I’m broken, I’m ashamed and embarrassed by the entire situation," he said in his statement. "The effects will forever linger in my life. I’m broken inside, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the person I was."

Jenkins' mother, Mary Jenkins, said Opdyke did not show her son "any mercy." His father, Melvin Jenkins, said the former deputy "ought to be lined up against the wall and shot by a firing squad."

Opdyke sobbed loudly during the sentencing before addressing the court.

"I cannot fathom how I fell so easily in line going along with and at times participating in the use of excessive force," he said. "It will haunt me every day for the rest of my life. I take full responsibility for my actions."

As he was apologizing to the victims, Jenkins got up and left.

"I was a coward. I deeply regret all the pain and suffering I caused you," Opdyke said to Parker. "I could have tried to stop it but I didn't."

U.S. District Judge Tom Lee told Opdyke he was "not merely a passive observer" in what happened before handing down the 210-month sentence.

Elward and the "Goon Squad" leader, former deputy Jeffrey Middleton, were sentenced Tuesday. Elward received just over 20 years in prison and Middleton was handed 17.5 years.

McAlpin and Joshua Hartfield, a Richland police officer, will be sentenced on Thursday.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com