‘Did You Tase Him in the Face!?’ Inside ‘Goon Squad’ Deputies’ Group Chat


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By Nate Rosenfield, Brian Howey and Jerry Mitchell from the New York Times

Years of messages from an encrypted WhatsApp text thread show conversations of sheriff’s deputies, including those who terrorized Mississippi residents.

Top row: former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon and Brett McAlpin; bottom row: former deputies Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield (Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press).

Between vacation photos and cookout invitations posted on their private text thread, a group of Mississippi sheriff’s deputies who called themselves the Goon Squad traded pictures of rotting corpses and joked about rape and shocking people with Tasers.

They did it all in front of their supervisor, who often joined in the banter.

An encrypted WhatsApp group chat obtained by The New York Times and Mississippi Today provides a yearslong record of the day-to-day conversations of a patrol unit involved in terrorizing residents across a central Mississippi county for a generation.

The Goon Squad came to national attention last year after Rankin County sheriff’s deputies tortured two Black men in their home and shot one of them in the face, nearly killing him. Six officers, including three from the Goon Squad shift, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to federal prison in March.

An investigation by The Times and Mississippi Today last fall revealed that nearly two dozen residents experienced similar brutality when Rankin deputies burst into their homes looking for illegal drugs.

Most of the deputies in the chat have not been charged, and some have not been accused of violence or other illegal behavior. Several deputies said their comments were jokes and denied doing anything illegal. At least nine still work at the department.

Continue reading.

Read more about the ‘Goon Squad’ in this Breaking News article.

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