Off-Duty Mississippi Cop Was With Deputies Accused of Torturing, Sexually Assaulting 2 Black Men: Police Chief

Mississippi Police Torture
Michael Jenkins was critically injured after being shot in the mouth by Mississippi deputies during a January raid in which he and a friend were tortured, sexually assaulted and repeatedly shocked with Tasers, according to a federal lawsuit.Family of Michael Jenkins

An off-duty Mississippi detective accompanied deputies accused by two Black men of torturing and sexually assaulting them, police chief says.

An off-duty Mississippi cop was part of a raid in which two Black men say they were tortured, sexually assaulted and shot, a police chief announced this week.

The announcement comes one week after the Rankin County Sheriff's Office announced multiple deputies had been fired or resigned following the filing of a federal lawsuit alleging the men were beaten, handcuffed, and repeatedly shocked with a Taser before a deputy shot one of the men in the face.

The U.S. Justice Department opened a civil rights investigation after the incident, and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is also reviewing the episode, authorities said.

Richland Police Department Chief Nick McLendon announced Monday that one of his officers had been part of the January raid.

“Joshua Hartfield, while off duty, has been implicated in an incident occurring in Rankin County, Mississippi on January 24, 2023,” McLendon wrote in a "letter to the community" posted on the department's Facebook page. “We must express our deepest disappointment that a member of our department is claimed to be involved in a situation that goes against our department’s commitment to serve and protect the public.”

Hartfield, who was listed as a detective on the department's social media account, has resigned, the chief said.

"Upon receiving the information regarding the allegations against Hartfield, immediate action was taken in line with our strict standards of responsibility and accountability," the chief wrote. "Hartfield was placed on administrative leave, subjected to disciplinary action, and subsequently tendered his resignation from the Richland Police Department," McLendon said.

Inside Edition Digital sent emails Friday to McLendon seeking further comment and to the police union representing the officer, but has not heard back. A phone message was also left for Hartfield Friday.

A $400 million federal lawsuit was filed last month on behalf of Michael Jenkins and Eddie Terrell, two Black men who allege white Rankin County deputies stormed into a home without a warrant in January and handcuffed them, beat them, shocked them with Tasers multiple times, assaulted them with a sex toy and waterboarded them for nearly two hours.

One of the deputies allegedly shoved his weapon into Jenkins' mouth as he was forced to kneel on the floor and pulled the trigger, mutilating the man's tongue, shattering his jaw and leaving him unable to properly speak or eat, the lawsuit claimed.

"Due to recent developments, including findings during our internal investigation, those deputies that were still employed by this department have all been terminated," Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said at a news conference last week. "We understand that the alleged actions of these deputies has eroded the public's trust in the department. Rest assured that we will work diligently to restore that trust."

Some deputies involved in what the department had initially said was a response to reports of "drug activity" had already resigned before the others were fired, the sheriff said. He declined to name the deputies or say how many were involved, citing the multiple investigations.

Attorney Trent Walker, one of the lawyers involved in the federal lawsuit, told Inside Edition Digital last week that the sheriff's announcement was "too little, too late."

Local authorities have "taken five months to do what should have been done in 24 hours," Walker said. "They tortured these young men."

The federal lawsuit was filed against Sheriff Bailey, deputies Hunter Elward, Brett Mc'Alpin, Christian Dedmond and three unnamed deputies for allegedly carrying out and overseeing "sadistic torture" that included hurling racist slurs including the N-word and "monkeys" at the two men while beating them, tasing them between 20 and 30 times, waterboarding them with liquids found in the home including milk, pelting them with eggs and stripping them naked and forcing them to shower together.

"I think they got drunk on their own sense of power," said Walker.

Inside Edition Digital was unable to find personal contact information for the deputies named in the lawsuit.

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