Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said the police badge was "tarnished by the criminal acts of these few individuals" at a press conference hours after the five former deputies pleaded guilty on Thursday. A sixth former Richland, Mississippi, police officer pled guilty as well.
"On the night of this incident, all of the former deputies lied to me," the sheriff stated. "I'm sick to my stomach..." I've worked to establish a reputation and create a secure county. By the deeds of a few, they have robbed me of everything."
"This is a perfect example of why people don't trust the police," he continued. "I never imagined this would happen in this department."
He also apologized to Jenkins and Parker, as well as the people of Rankin County.
Bailey stated that he knew the five Rankin County officers well and that he "never could have imagined that any of these five individuals were capable of the horrendous crimes that they committed."
According to court filings, the six cops implicated are Hunter Elward, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Christian Dedmon, Daniel Opdyke, and Joshua Hartfield. According to online federal court records, the allegations include discharge of a firearm during a violent crime, conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice.
"These individuals were way out of bounds. "What they did is unbelievable," Bailey remarked. "This is a gang of criminals who broke into a house."
Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker, the two victims, filed a federal lawsuit in June, alleging that six white police officers illegally entered their home in Braxton, Mississippi, and tortured them for about two hours. The cops allegedly handcuffed, kicked, waterboarded, and attempted to sexually abuse Jenkins and Parker, according to the lawsuit. The assault resulted with one cop putting a gun in Jenkins' mouth and shooting him, causing lifelong bodily injuries, cognitive loss, and long-term psychological harm, according to the lawsuit.
The sheriff claimed he fired three deputies in late June after one of them revealed some information about the incident. The sheriff said that two of the deputies had previously resigned from the department.
The attack, according to Bailey, was "a nightmare for law enforcement."
"This is the most heinous instance of police brutality in my entire career," he said. "And it makes me ashamed that it happened in this department."
In the aftermath of the bombshell claims, Bailey stated that he has no intention of retiring. "I'm going to stay here," he declared. "I'm going to fix these issues."
"On this incident right here, the only thing I am guilty of is trusting grown men who swore an oath to do their job correctly," he added. "I am guilty of that, but the people of Rankin County elected me to serve them in good and bad times." Yes, this is an unfortunate period."
"I am embarrassed and ashamed of what they have done to this badge," he continued, his palm resting on an embroidered badge on his shirt.
The sheriff claimed he had no idea the deputies had called themselves "The Goon Squad" until last week. According to the federal charge papers, the police adopted the moniker to symbolize their "willingness to use excessive force and not report it."
Bailey stated that he had not suspected any cultural issues at the agency prior to the incident. "Obviously, one thing I need to do is make people more accountable," he explained. "I am going to fix this."
The sheriff stated that there could be more victims and urged potential victims to contact the FBI or state authorities to report events.
Bailey stressed that the six cops involved worked together to cover up the incident.