Third Ex-Police Officer Sentenced In Mississippi Torture Case

A third former Mississippi police officer, Daniel Opdyke, aged 28, has been sentenced to 17.5 years in prison for his involvement in the torture of two black men in their own home.

This incident, which occurred in January 2023, led to the prosecution of six officers.

Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker were subjected to beatings, stun gun shocks, and sexual assault by the officers, who referred to themselves as the “Goon Squad.” Five of the officers were former Rankin County sheriff deputies, while the sixth, Joshua Hartfield, served with the Richland police. The sentencing of all six officers is taking place this week.

During his sentencing, Opdyke expressed remorse and tearfully admitted to reflecting on “the monster I became that night.” He acknowledged the weight of his actions and the harm inflicted on the victims.

US District Judge Tom Lee emphasized that Opdyke, along with the other officers, knowingly engaged in excessive force during the assault. He stated that Opdyke was an active participant rather than a passive observer.

Previously, former officers Hunter Elward and Jeffrey Middleton were sentenced. Elward, who shot one of the victims in the mouth during a mock execution, received a 20-year sentence, while Middleton, identified as the leader of the “Goon Squad,” was sentenced to just over 17 years.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland condemned the officers’ crimes as “heinous” following their sentencing. The officers had pleaded guilty to federal civil rights offenses in August, including conspiracy against rights, obstruction of justice, and deprivation of rights under the color of law.

Responding to a call about suspicious activity, the officers entered the home of Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker without a warrant, where they handcuffed and assaulted the victims for hours, using racial slurs.

Investigations by various media outlets uncovered a pattern of violent police misconduct spanning decades, of which the 2023 incident was a part.

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey, under whose authority the officers served, faces a separate lawsuit of $400 million for alleged failure to adequately train the officers.