Multiple deputies in Rankin County, Mississippi, have been fired or resigned in the wake of a federal lawsuit filed by two Black men who accused them of torture, se*xual assault, and shooting. The Rankin County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the terminations and stated that the incident is now the subject of federal and state investigations.
The lawsuit, seeking $400 million in damages, was filed on behalf of Michael Jenkins and Eddie Terrell. According to their allegations, six white Rankin County deputies unlawfully entered their home in January without a warrant. The deputies allegedly handcuffed, beat, repeatedly tased, se*xually assaulted the men with a se*x toy, and waterboarded them for nearly two hours.
The lawsuit further claims that one of the deputies forced Jenkins to kneel on the floor and inserted his weapon into Jenkins’ mouth before pulling the trigger, causing severe injuries to his tongue and jaw. The incident prompted the U.S. Justice Department to launch a civil rights investigation, while the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is conducting its own review.
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey announced the termination of the remaining deputies employed by the department due to recent developments and findings during their internal investigation. The sheriff acknowledged that the alleged actions of these deputies have damaged public trust and assured the community that efforts will be made to restore it.
Some deputies involved in the incident had already resigned prior to the terminations. Sheriff Bailey declined to disclose the names or exact number of deputies involved, citing ongoing investigations.
Attorney Trent Walker, representing the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit, criticized the sheriff’s announcement, stating that it came too late. Walker described the treatment endured by the two men as torture and criticized the local authorities for taking five months to address the situation.
The federal lawsuit names Sheriff Bailey, deputies Hunter Elward, Brett Mc’Alpin, Christian Dedmond, and three unnamed deputies as defendants. The plaintiffs allege sadistic torture, including racial slurs, beatings, excessive tasing, waterboarding, and other forms of abuse. Walker believes that the deputies became intoxicated by their own power.
Another case involving the death of a Black man in the custody of Rankin County deputies is also being handled by Walker. The Rankin County Sheriff’s Office, their attorney, and the law enforcement union representing the department have not responded to requests for comment. Contact information for the named deputies in the lawsuit remains unavailable.
Sheriff Bailey, while reading from a statement, expressed his belief in the department’s integrity and commitment to rectify the situation. Charges against Jenkins and Terrell for drug possession, assaulting an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia, and disorderly conduct do not appear to be actively pursued, according to Walker.
An investigation conducted by The Associated Press uncovered multiple violent encounters between Rankin County deputies and Black residents, including the January raid. The department denied interview requests and access to the deputies involved in these confrontations. The investigation found that some of the deputies implicated in the raid were also linked to other violent incidents, resulting in fatalities and severe injuries.
Public comments from the Justice Department, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, and local authorities regarding the federal lawsuit have not been made.