Malik Shabazz, Lawsuit, Eddie Parker, Michael Jenkins, Goon squad

Black Men At Center Of ‘Goon Squad’ Lawsuit Call For Stiff Punishment

Angela English, of the NAACP, also told reporters at the news conference that Mississippi's history is part of the fabric of the case.

For Eddie Parker and Michael Jenkins, this day has been a long time coming. Parker and Jenkins are the two Black men at the center of a federal civil rights lawsuit filed after the two men alleged that six white Rankin County Department officers tortured them for two hours. The two will testify in federal court about what they say they experienced at the hands of the group, which occasionally referred to itself as “The Goon Squad.” Ahead of this appearance, as CNN reports, they called for the men to receive the maximum sentence under the law. 

At a March 18 news conference in Jackson, Mississippi, Parker, Jenkins, their families, and legal representatives called for justice. Malik Shabazz, the lead attorney for the two men, told reporters, “The day of justice has finally come for the Rankin County ‘Goon Squad,’” Shabazz said. “It’s an important day, not only for Mississippi, but it’s an important day for accountability, for police brutality all across America.”

Shabazz continued, “We want the maximum sentence. We want the sentences to match the crimes because the nation is watching, the world is watching, police officers are watching, the families are watching – and they want justice.”

Angela English of the NAACP also told reporters at the news conference that Mississippi’s history is part of the fabric of the case. “We can’t erase Mississippi’s past, but we can move forward today and set a precedent that has never been set before,” English said before adding, “This is not 1964; it’s 2024.”

As CNN reports, federal prosecutors intend to seek the maximum sentences for each of the officers who are facing charges. Hunter Elward faces the most serious charges, up to 30 years, for the discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence. The others, Brett McAlpin, Christian Dedmon, Daniel Opdyke, Jeffrey Middleton, and former Richland Police Department officer Joshua Hartfield, face up to 20 years. As BLACK ENTERPRISE previously reported, the group pleaded guilty in August 2023 to charges of conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice. 

Shabazz believes that the sentencing of Elward is the barometer for what they can expect for the rest of the officers, he told CNN, “The sentence that’s given to Hunter Elward, in specific, will send a sign of how the rest of the defendants will be sentenced and it will send a great sign of how serious the judge is about doing justice,” Shabazz added that he believes the judge will “give out some strong justice.”

As WJTV reports, Elward was sentenced to 241 months (20 years) in federal prison, while Middleton will be sentenced on the afternoon of March 19. Dedmon and Opdyke will be sentenced on March 20, and Hartfield and McAlpin will be sentenced on March 21. The outlet notes that although the group agreed to the prosecutor’s recommended sentences ranging from five to 30 years, the judge is not bound by those limits. 

Regardless of the length of time the six officers receive, Shabazz believes that the department’s rot is still present, despite Rankin County Department Sheriff Bryan Bailey’s claims that changes will be implemented. Shabazz, as CNN reports, is calling for a more thorough investigation into the department. 

Shabazz said at the press conference that the attorneys for Parker and Jenkins will be petitioning the Justice Department to open a pattern or practice investigation into the misconduct they allege has taken place at the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department. “We absolutely believe that the ‘Goon Squad’ is not limited to the six officers facing sentencing,” he said. “We know it’s a lot deeper.”

RELATED CONTENT: Video Shows ‘Basketball Cop’ Viral Sensation Slamming Black Teen’s Head Against Patrol Car