Ex-Mississippi Cop Sentenced to 20 Years For Racist Torture of Two Black Men

Reuters/Kathleen Flynn
Reuters/Kathleen Flynn

Hunter Elward, a former Mississippi cop who was part of the self-described “Goon Squad” and pleaded guilty to torturing and sexually assaulting two Black men last year, was sentenced to spend 2o years behind bars on Tuesday.

Elward, 31, is the first of the six “Goon Squad” officers who pleaded guilty for the assault. He was slapped with a 241-month sentence by U.S. District Judge Tom Lee, the maximum permitted under federal guidelines.

Elward faced some of the nastiest allegations brought against the group of officers, having shot one victim in the mouth in a mock execution that went awry.

Lee called Elward’s actions “egregious and despicable,” adding that issuing a maximum sentence was “more than justified.”

“It’s what the defendant deserves,” he said. “It’s what the community and the defendant’s victims deserve.”

Elward and five other officers raided a home that Michael Corey Jenkins, 33, and Eddie Terrell Parker, 36, were inside on Jan. 24, 2023. They had no warrant, and came only because a neighbor complained the men were staying in a home with a white woman.

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Once inside the Rankin County home, just outside Jackson, Elward admitted he shoved a gun into Jenkins’ mouth and fired, though he claims he didn’t mean to. The other officers have admitted to assaulting the men with stun guns, a sex toy, and other objects.

Other acts of terror listed by investigators included handcuffing the men and pouring milk, alcohol, and chocolate syrup over their faces. Jenkins and Parker were then forced to strip naked and ordered to clean up the mess, all while the cops used stun guns on them and hurled racial slurs.

As if that alleged horror wasn’t enough, authorities said the officers then tried to frame Jenkins and Parker as being behind the chaos. The officers planted drugs and a gun at the house, and the duo faced criminal charges for months before they were ultimately dropped.

Jenkins and Parker repeatedly called for the “stiffest of sentences,” as they put it in a Monday news conference, and their attorneys asked for the same in court on Tuesday.

For his part, Elward sobbed as his sentence was read by Lee, reported The New York Times. Prior to sentencing, he’d apologized to the victims and their family members, reportedly saying, “I hate that I was involved in this. I hate what’s happened to them.”

The gunshot in Jenkins’ mouth shattered his jaw. His attorneys said he still struggles to talk and eat, and is lucky to be alive at all.

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“They tried to take my manhood away from me,” Jenkins said Tuesday, reported the Times. “I don’t ever think I’ll be the person I was.”

A Times investigation into the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office uncovered a slew of nasty allegations against its officers. In the pursuit of drug arrests, witnesses and victims interviewed by the Times alleged that officers stuck a stick down one man’s throat until he vomited, dripped molten metal onto another, and repeatedly beat others until they were bloodied and bruised.

Elward showed remorse for his crimes on Tuesday, telling Jenkins and Parker that he still sees their faces every night.

“I don’t want to get too personal. I see you every night, and I can’t go back and do what’s right,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “I am so sorry for what I did.”

Parker then stood up and reportedly said, “I forgive you.”

So far, the “Goon Squad” officers in Rankin County have been charged for vigilante-style violence in two incidents, including the home raid and a separate attack on 28-year-old Alan Schmidt in December 2022.

Both cases made national headlines, and FBI director Christopher Wray addressed the sentencing in a speech on Tuesday.

“It’s hard to imagine a more atrocious set of civil rights violations than those carried out by these guys,” Wray said. “But on the flip side, it’s hard to imagine more important work than investigating those crimes and seeking justice for the victims.”

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