What We Know About The Rankin County 6

In March 2023, The New York Times reported that two Black men, Michael Corey Jenkins, 32, and Eddie Terrell Parker, 35, from Rankin County, Mississippi, were planning to sue a group of sheriff's officers who they said had kicked their way into their house without a warrant and brutally bound and assaulted the two men.

The full names and identities of the defendants known as the "Rankin County 6" were revealed in a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs on August 3, 2023. They are Rankin Country Sheriff's Office Chief Investigator Brett McAlpin, 52, Lieutenant Jeffrey Middleton, 46, Deputy Hunter Elward, 31, Narcotics Investigator Christian Dedmon, 28, Deputy Daniel Opdyke, 27, as well as Richland, Mississippi, Police Department Narcotics Investigator Joshua Hartfield, 31. 

In August 2023, all six — who had either resigned or been fired from the force since the shocking story broke — pleaded guilty to 16 federal felonies that were filed against them in relation to the incident, and WJTV reported on August 14 that the men had also previously been charged by the state with "aggravated assault, home invasion, obstruction of justice/hindering prosecution in the first degree and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice/hindering prosecution." Since they all plead guilty to individual variations of those state charges the convicted law officials each reached a plea deal with sentences from five to 30 years. Federal sentences, expected in November, could make those prison sentences even longer. 

A vicious assault

According to CNN, the home of Michael Corey Jenkins, where he was visited by his friend Eddie Terrell Parker, first drew the attention of the Rankin County 6 after a call from a neighbor, who told the police that the occupants were behaving suspiciously. (It is worth noting that there has been little in terms of detail as to what behavior precisely necessitated calling the police in question.)

The deputies — who reportedly self-styled as the "Goon Squad" as an acknowledgment of their willingness to use excessive force and illegal activity in carrying out their Sheriff's Department duties — then kicked down the door of the house and handcuffed and arrested the two innocent men, whom they referred to with racial slurs and told them should leave the county. They then kicked and beat the men with several objects including planks of wood and a sex toy — with which they threatened to rape them — and used "waterboarding techniques" to torture them, per The New York Times. They also attacked the men with their service weapons, repeatedly tasering them as they lay bound and helpless. 

Having shot a number of live rounds to scare their victims, Deputy Hunter Elward then inserted his gun into Jenkins' mouth, where he first fired an empty round before shooting Jenkins through the tongue and cheek, leaving him severely injured and losing blood. The assault lasted nearly two hours.

A cover-up that failed

Following the brutal attack that had left the two victims badly injured and in need of medical attention, the deputies responsible reportedly gathered on the porch of the house and attempted to strategize over how they could cover up their crimes. Their plans included pinning crimes on Michael Jenkins that he had not committed and planting a gun on him to create a false justification for the use of extreme force.

However, their plan to frame Michael Jenkins — who wound up in hospital to undergo surgery for his gunshot wound, which left him scarred with a lacerated tongue and difficulty speaking — ultimately failed. The two victims' intent to sue letter was delivered to the necessary officials in Rankin County by their lawyer, Malik Shabazz, sparking a full-blown investigation into the incident. Michael Jenkins remains badly wounded by the bullet that Hunter Elward fired in his mouth, while both victims now live with the trauma of what has been done to them by those whose power is there to protect and serve innocent citizens.

If you or a loved one has experienced a hate crime, contact the VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.