Officials in Mississippi on Tuesday, announced that five Rankin County Sheriff’s deputies accused of beating, torturing, and sexually assaulting two Black men during a January 24 drug raid have been fired or resigned.
According to The Associated Press, one of the Black victims is said to have sustained serious injuries after a deputy who partook in the raid allegedly shot him in the mouth. The victims, identified as Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker, said the deputies did not have a warrant when they made their way into the home they were in.
The two Black men said the deputies tasered them and used a sex toy to assault them, adding that they were also beaten. Jenkins also suffered severe injuries to his face, tongue, and jaw after one of the deputies allegedly put a gun in his mouth before opening fire. A civil rights investigation into the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department has since been launched by the Justice Department.
Tuesday’s announcement also comes after an Associated Press investigation linked many of the accused deputies to at least four other occasions where their encounters with Black men turned violent. Those encounters resulted in two deaths, while a third person sustained long-term injuries.
During Tuesday’s announcement, Rankin County Sheriff, Bryan Bailey, did not disclose the number of deputies who were fired or their identities. However, two of the accused former deputies were identified as Hunter Elward and Christian Dedmon in police and court records, the news outlet obtained.
“Due to recent developments, including findings during our internal investigation, those deputies that were still employed by this department have all been terminated,” said Bailey. “We understand that the alleged actions of these deputies have eroded the public’s trust in the department. Rest assured that we will work diligently to restore that trust.”
The deputies had claimed they executed the raid after they were alerted about drug activity at the said address. Though body camera footage of the encounter is unavailable, records obtained by The Associated Press revealed that the deputies activated their Tasers, turned them off, or discharged them before one of the law enforcement officials allegedly shot Jenkins. The raid lasted more than an hour.
A federal civil rights lawsuit has since been filed by Jenkins and Parker, with the plaintiffs seeking $400 million in damages. Though Tuesday’s announcement was also welcomed by an attorney for the two Black men, he asked the state attorney general and the Justice Department to criminally indict the accused deputies.
“The firing of the Rankin County Mississippi Sheriff’s deputies involved in the torture and shooting of Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker is a significant action on the path to justice for one of the worst law enforcement tragedies in recent memory,” Attorney Malik Shabazz said. “Sheriff Bryan Bailey has finally acted after supporting much of the bloodshed that has occurred under his reign in Rankin County.”