Five deputies from the Rankin County, Miss., Sheriff’s Office, some of whom called themselves "the Goon Squad," and an officer from the Richland, Miss., Police Department admitted to taking part in a racist assault against Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrel Parker. The men never thought their abusers would pay for their crimes, The Associated Press reports. “It’s really a shock, but I enjoyed every moment of it,” Parker said, recounting the former officers being led out of a federal courtroom in shackles. Court documents unsealed by federal prosecutors suggest that only some members of the Goon Squad participated in the raid. Even as deputies face accountability for their brutal crimes against Jenkins and Parker, residents say a culture of corruption and violence exists within the sheriff’s office.
“They say one bad apple spoils the whole bunch,” Mississippi resident Monica Lee said. “If they do it once, they’ll do it again.” The charges follow an Associated Press investigation linking some of the deputies to at least four violent encounters with Black men since 2019 that left two dead and another with lasting injuries. Law enforcement officers are seldom charged for crimes committed on the job, and it is rarer still for them to plead guilty. “That behavior is taught,” said the Rev. Ricky Sutton of Mount Carmel Ministries, a Rankin County church. “When I think about this culture, I just ask myself, how deep does it run?” The behavior runs deep enough, Sutton said, that some Black people are afraid to spend time in Rankin County, a majority-white county just east of the state capital, Jackson, which is home to one of the highest percentages of Black residents of any major U.S. city.