Six former white law enforcement officers in Mississippi admitted to federal civil rights violations against two Black men during a home invasion in January. The allegations were made public on Thursday when the five Rankin County sheriff's deputies and one Richland Police officer appeared in federal court in Jackson, Miss., reports the Wall Street Journal. “The defendants in this case tortured and inflicted unspeakable harm on their victims, egregiously violated the civil rights of citizens who they were supposed to protect, and shamefully betrayed the oath they swore as law enforcement officers,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. The Justice Department said the officers entered the home without a warrant and assaulted the two men. Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker were hit with various objects, and one officer allegedly put a gun in Jenkins's mouth and fired, resulting in a lacerated tongue, a fractured jaw, and a punctured throat, DOJ said.
U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca said the officers went to considerable lengths to conceal the incident, including the planting and fabrication of evidence, the intimidation of witnesses, and lying to investigators. The Justice Department opened an investigation into the allegations in February after Jenkins's lawyer, Malik Shabazz, reported the claims. “Today is truly historic for Mississippi and for civil and human rights in America,” Shabazz said after the guilty pleas were announced. In June, Jenkins and Parker brought a civil rights suit against Rankin County, seeking compensation of up to $400 million in compensatory damages and punitive damages. Felony charges in the case include civil rights conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice.