Final Defendant In Mississippi “Goon Squad” Case Is Sentenced

( – For decades, several deputies in Mississippi’s Rankin County Sheriff’s Department carried out acts of terror on the very people they were supposed to serve. Dubbed the “Goon Squad,” they would barge into people’s homes in the middle of the night, accuse them of carrying out crimes, and interrogate and beat them into confessions. In 2023, six deputies were arrested and charged with a total of 13 felonies related to entering a home and torturing two black men, Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker, including shooting Jenkins in the mouth, and then covering up the crime. They were all convicted and now, the last one has been sentenced.

On Thursday, March 21, Joshua Hartfield, the last of the six law enforcement officers convicted of several offenses, including trying to cover up evidence and using a Taser on one of the victims, received a prison sentence of 10 years. He was the only officer who wasn’t part of the sheriff’s department or the so-called Goon Squad. Hartfield had been charged with first-degree obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice.

In his ruling, US District Judge Tom Lee said Hartfield “made some choices. Some bad choices,” but he saw him in a slightly different light because he wasn’t part of the group responsible, but he “actively participated in a much more limited basis,” but he was still involved, and “For that,” the judge said, he “deserve[s] to be punished.” After his sentence was handed down, Hartfield issued a teary apology to the victims, saying he “failed to help the two people who needed [him] the most.”

The same day, Brett McAlpin, who prosecutors dubbed the leader of the squad, was also sentenced. He received 27 years in prison for deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy against rights, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. At the time of the crime, he was the fourth-highest-ranking member in the department, in a position, prosecutors said, to stop the torture, but instead, he perpetuated it and helped cover it up.

The other suspects in the case, Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Jeffrey Middleton, and Daniel Opdyke, received sentences as well of 40 years, 20 years, 17.5 years, and 17.5 years, respectively.

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