Almost two weeks after Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker filed a $400 million federal civil lawsuit against Rankin County in Mississippi and several of the department’s peace officers, an unspecified number of deputies has been terminated.
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey says an investigation revealed certain “developments” in the case, giving grounds for their dismissal.
At a news conference on Tuesday, June 27, Bailey was brief with his comments, stating, “Due to recent developments, including findings during our internal investigation, those deputies that were still employed by this department have all been terminated.”
Some of the officers that were not fired, according to WCYB, resigned.
Prior to the internal probe, the terminated deputies spent time on administrative leave.
“We understand that the alleged actions of these deputies has eroded the public’s trust in the department,” said the sheriff. “Rest assured that we will work diligently to restore that trust.”
Bailey did not reveal the names of the officers that were let go, but according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Mississippi by attorney Malik Shabazz and obtained by Atlanta Black Star, three of the officers involved in the Jenkins and Parker lawsuit are Hunter Elward, Brett Mc’Alpin and Christian Dedmon. Three other deputies are listed with the name John Doe.
Shabazz applauded the sheriff’s office’s decision to terminate the 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,” Shabazz said. “Sheriff Bryan Bailey has finally acted after supporting much of the bloodshed that has occurred under his reign in Rankin County.”
While speaking to the press, the sheriff also declined to comment on any specific allegations put forth by the two victims in their lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges on Jan. 24 the deputies in question “forced their entry into the premises from several entry points without a warrant.” It also states that the officers had no “reasonable suspicion or probable cause” for entry into the residence.
Jenkins, 32, and Parker, 35, were in their home between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. when the officers burst into their home with their body camera equipment already deactivated.
Inside the house was another recording device; however, the claim states “deputies involved would steal from the property in question video computer equipment that recorded a critical portion of this ordeal,” adding that Rankin County is currently in possession of the stolen equipment.
The video is likely to show the officers using sex toys and a stun gun on the men throughout the 90 minutes the officers were in the house.
The lawsuit says the men were handcuffed, beaten, kicked, and subjected to “waterboarding techniques” by the deputies. At one point, deputies allegedly put a gun up to the men’s heads and threatened to kill them.
In an extraordinary act of violence, one officer allegedly shoved a gun in Jenkins’ mouth and shot him. As a result, the man suffered severe injuries to his face and jaw and had to have his tongue removed.
The lawyer states in the lawsuit that at no point in the almost two-hour ordeal “did either victim ever resist, run away from, or oppose the deputies in any way,” staying in full compliance with law enforcement’s instructions.
The U.S. Department of Justice opened a civil rights investigation into the incident and the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department.
The Associated Press obtained police and court records that stated the deputies raided the house because they believed it was part of a drug sting, listing only two officers’ names: Elward and Dedmon.
Shabazz dismissed that assertion immediately after the incident, saying neither man had drugs.
Attorney Jason Dare, who has been hired to represent the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department, said that the number of deputies the lawsuit alleges assaulted the men is wrong — that it was not six, but five, and all of those men have been terminated.
“There is no body camera footage of the episode. Records obtained by the AP show that Tasers used by the deputies were turned on, turned off, or used dozens of times during a roughly 65-minute period before Jenkins was shot,” Dare said.
Race is believed to have played a part in this “severe event of police brutality.”
“While under the Defendants’ custody, Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker were repeatedly and directly called “n—ers” and “monkeys” and other specific racial slurs by these White officers,” Shabazz said. He also noted that the deputies took issue with the men “dating white women.”
The officers represented the majority racial makeup of the county. The most recent Census record shows Rankin County as being 74.3 percent white and 22.7 percent Black.
According to the lawsuit, the house that Jenkins and Parker were in was located in a predominantly white community, with them being “the only two Black males residing within a two-mile area of the location of this occurrence.”
Shabazz says that the deputies violated his clients’ civil rights by using excessive force, performing an unlawful raid without a warrant, and having a “reckless disregard” for his client’s constitutionally protected rights.
He also alleged those who did not actively abuse Jenkins or Parker are liable because they did not intervene.
“This lawsuit here is all about punitive damages. These acts are egregious and worthy of punishment,” Shabazz said after announcing its filing. “Why punitive damages? Why punish? Because we don’t want this to happen again.”