First of 6 Mississippi ex-officers sentenced to 20 years for torturing 2 Black men: ‘I’m so sorry … I hate myself for it’


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By Emma Tucker, Ryan Young, Jade Gordon and Shawn Nottingham, CNN

From top left: Former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Daniel Opdyke and former Richland police officer Joshua Hartfield appear at the Rankin County Circuit Court in Brandon, Mississippi, on August 14, 2023. 
(Rogelio V. Solis/AP)

Jackson, Mississippi CNN — 

Hunter Elward, a former Mississippi sheriff’s deputy who faced the most serious of federal charges against him and five other officers in the torture of two Black men last year, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in a highly emotional hearing Tuesday.

He pleaded guilty in August to federal charges of discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, conspiracy against rights, deprivation of rights under color of law, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice related to the January 2023 incident.

In a lawsuit, the victims – Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker – alleged the officers illegally entered their home and handcuffed, kicked, waterboarded and tased them and attempted to sexually assault them over nearly two hours before one of the deputies put a gun in Jenkins’ mouth and shot him.

Some of the officers called themselves “The Goon Squad” because of their willingness to use excessive force and not report it, federal prosecutors said.

Elward addressed the victims directly in court during his sentencing hearing.

“I’m so sorry,” the disgraced former officer said. “I don’t want to get too personal with you, Michael. There’s no telling what you’ve seen. I’m so sorry that I caused that. I hate myself for it. I hate that I gave you that. I accept all responsibility.”

Jenkins nodded. Parker stood up and replied: “We forgive you, man.”

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