Per a report from the Associated Press, the officers—three of whom previously admitted to referring to themselves as “the “Goon Squad”—pleaded guilty to their state charges, which carry their own sentences separate from the men’s respective federal cases.
Earlier this month, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office announced state charges against the men, five of which were identified as former Rankin County Sheriff’s Office officers and one of whom worked as investigator for the Richland Police Department.
State charges against the officers in question included aggravated assault, home invasion, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice. The names of the officers are as follows:
- Hunter Elward, formerly of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office
- Christian Dedmon, formerly of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office
- Brett McAlpin, formerly of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office
- Jeffrey Middleton, formerly of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office
- Daniel Opdyk, formerly of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office
- Joshua Hartfield, formerly of the Richland Police Department
“This brutal attack caused more than physical harm to these two individual victims; it severed that vital trust with the people," Fitch said of the officers' actions, which she further criticized as an "abuse of power."
The men pleaded guilty to the felony charges against them earlier this month. At the time, the Department of Justice also detailed the officers’ violent attack on two Black men identified as M.J. and E.P in January of this year. Per the DOJ, the now-former cops kicked in the door of a residence in the Braxton area without obtaining a search warrant. Once inside, the officers arrested the two men “without probable cause” and proceeded to torture them.
“The defendants handcuffed and arrested the men without probable cause to believe they had committed any crime, called them racial slurs, and warned them to stay out of Rankin County," a DOJ spokesperson said. "Further, the defendants punched and kicked the men, tased them 17 times, forced them to ingest liquids, and assaulted them with a dildo.”
Additionally, both Dedman and Elward fired their guns during the attack. On the latter, the DOJ said:
"Elward surreptitiously removed a bullet from the chamber of his gun, forced the gun into M.J.’s mouth and pulled the trigger. The unloaded gun clicked but did not fire. Elward racked the slide, intending to dry-fire a second time. When Elward pulled the trigger, the gun discharged. The bullet lacerated M.J.’s tongue, broke his jaw and exited out of his neck."
After the attack, the victims were not given prompt medical assistance. Instead of helping the men, the officers initiated a coverup operation that included a planted gun and fake drug evidence.