Fourth ex-officer sentenced for Mississippi torture

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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 HartfieldImage source, AP

A former Mississippi police officer has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for torturing two black men in a house.

Christian Dedmon, 29, is one of six officers convicted over the 24 January 2023 assault.

Three other former officers have been sentenced to a total of more than 54 years in prison for the attack.

Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker were beaten, shocked with stun guns and sexually assaulted by the officers.

In court, Mr Jenkins said Dedmon was the “most wicked” of his assailants, in a statement read by his lawyer.

“Deputy Dedmon is the worst example of a police officer in the United States,” Mr Jenkins said. Dedmon had planted drugs on Mr Jenkins in a bid to frame him.

He still has trouble speaking after being shot in the mouth as part of a mock execution during the ordeal.

The officers were responding to a call in the Rankin County town of Braxton in which a neighbour reported seeing suspicious behaviour and black men staying at a white woman’s home.

The policemen entered the house without a warrant.

Mr Jenkins and Mr Parker were handcuffed, beaten and mocked with racial slurs during an attack that lasted an hour-and-a-half.

US District Judge Tom Lee said Dedmon had carried out the most “shocking, brutal and cruel attacks imaginable” against the two black men and against a white man during a traffic stop weeks earlier.

A few hours before Dedmon learned his fate on Wednesday, Daniel Opdyke was sentenced to 17.5 years.

Brett McAlpin and Joshua Hartfield – the last two ex-officers awaiting sentencing – are scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday.

Five are former Rankin County sheriff deputies while the sixth, Hartfield, was with the Richland police. They called themselves the Goon Squad. All of them are white.

Dedmon’s family was in court, some crying and with their eyes closed as prosecutors recounted his conduct.

He apologised and said he would never forgive himself, though he did not address the victims directly like the three ex-officers before him.

During his sentencing, Opdyke wept and told the two victims that he had been reflecting on “the monster I became that night”.

“The weight of my actions and the harm I’ve caused will haunt me every day,” he said.

Former officers Hunter Elward and Jeffrey Middleton were the first to be sentenced on Tuesday.

Elward, who shot Mr Jenkins during the mock execution, was sentenced to 20 years.

Middleton, the leader of the so-called Goon Squad, was sentenced to just over 17 years.

The former officers pleaded guilty to federal civil rights offences in August.

They were charged with conspiracy against rights, obstruction of justice, deprivation of rights under colour of law, discharge of a firearm under a crime of violence, and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey, for whom the officers were working, is facing a separate $400m (£314m) lawsuit for allegedly failing to properly train the officers.

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