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Miss. 'Goon Squad' Shot Black Man Amid Racist Torture and Concocted Cover Story: 'My Worst Dream Come True' (Exclusive)

“I looked at him,” Michael Jenkins tells PEOPLE, recounting the racist attack. "And he shot me"

<p>Emily Palmer</p> Michael Jenkins (behind him lawyer Malik Shabazz) with Eddie Parker (background) recounts that Jan. 24 night.

Emily Palmer

Michael Jenkins (behind him lawyer Malik Shabazz) with Eddie Parker (background) recounts that Jan. 24 night.
  • When a neighbor complained about Black men at a White woman’s residence, the self-styled “Goon Squad” responded by breaking into a Braxton, Miss., home and torturing Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker in a racially-motivated attack.

  • During the hours-long attack last year, former deputy Hunter Elward shot Jenkins in the mouth, permanently impacting his speech.

  • Elward was sentenced to 20 years behind bars and former lieutenant Jeffrey Middleton received a 17.5-year sentence. Three other former Rankin County sheriff’s officers and a former Richland police officer will be sentenced in the coming days.

When Eddie Parker saw law enforcement officers in his hallway, “It was my worst dream come true,” he tells PEOPLE. “I knew what was about to transpire.”

That night, on Jan. 24, 2023, six White law enforcement officers – who called themselves the “Goon Squad” – broke into the Braxton, Miss. home where Parker worked as a live-in aid to a White woman with disabilities and terrorized the two Black men inside, firing their guns and threatening to anally rape them with sex toys.

“I had but one thing in my head,” Parker recalls. “We were going to die.”

Calling the men “n - - - -” “monkey” and “boy” per the federal complaint obtained by PEOPLE, the officers told Parker and his friend, Michael Jenkins, to stay out of Rankin County and go back to “their side.”

<p>Gwendolyn Eason Palmer</p> Eddie Parker during an interview with PEOPLE at his lawyer's office in Jackson, Miss. March 18.

Gwendolyn Eason Palmer

Eddie Parker during an interview with PEOPLE at his lawyer's office in Jackson, Miss. March 18.

Related: 'I Thought I Was Dead': Victims of Mississippi 'Goon Squad' Officers Recount Racist Torture, Abuse

Four former Rankin County sheriff’s officers have been sentenced so far in the racially motivated attack.

Convicted of some of the most heinous crimes in the episode, Hunter Elward – who shot his gun into Jenkins’s mouth, nearly severing his tongue – faced up to 70 years behind bars.

On Tuesday, a Mississippi judge sentenced the former patrol deputy to 20 years in prison for discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to deprive rights and six counts of deprivation against rights, per the Department of Justice.

<p>AP Photo</p> Brett McAlpin, Hunter Elward, Daniel Opdyke, Jeffrey Middleton, Christian Dedmon and Joshua Hartfield.

AP Photo

Brett McAlpin, Hunter Elward, Daniel Opdyke, Jeffrey Middleton, Christian Dedmon and Joshua Hartfield.

Related: Mississippi 'Goon Squad' Officer Sentenced to 20 Years for Torture of 2 Black Men

Jeffrey Middleton, 46, a former lieutenant, was also sentenced Tuesday to 17.5 years behind bars for conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to deprive rights and three counts of deprivation against rights.

On Wednesday afternoon Christian Dedmon, formerly the sheriff's narcotics investigator, was sentenced to 40 years for discharge of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to deprive rights and six counts of deprivation against rights, the AP reports.

Also on Wednesday former patrol deputy Daniel Opdyke received 17.5 years behind bars, for conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to deprive rights and five counts of deprivation against rights, the Department of Justice confirms to PEOPLE.

Opdyke’s lawyer, Jeffery P. Reynolds – the only defense lawyer to respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment – said Opdyke “has admitted he was wrong, and feels deep remorse for the pain he caused the victims.”

“I cannot fathom how I fell so easily in line, going along with and actively participating in the use of excessive force against Mr. Parker and Mr. Jenkins,” Opdyke said through tears at his sentencing hearing Wednesday morning, per CNN.

Then Opdyke — who had assaulted Parker with a sex toy mounted to a BB gun that January night — turned to Parker, whose head hung between his legs as he cried.

“Nothing I say can undo the harm that I caused you,” Opdyke told him. “I can only take full responsibility for my actions, and I deeply regret all the pain and suffering I’ve caused you.”

Tears streaming down his face, Parker stood and left the courtroom with his aunt, the outlet reported.

Brett McAlpin, the sheriff's former chief investigator and Joshua Hartfield, formerly a narcotics investigator for the Richland Police Department, both previously pleaded guilty in relation to the case and will be sentenced March 21.

The former officers are also charged in an upcoming state case, with sentencing to run concurrent with their federal time.

<p>Emily Palmer</p> Lawyer Malik Shabazz speaking at a Jackson, Miss. press conference March 18, heading into a week of sentencing hearings for the six former Mississippi officers. Standing behind him, wearing a cross necklace, is his client, Michael Jenkins, who was shot in the mouth by one of the officers in Jan. 2023.

Emily Palmer

Lawyer Malik Shabazz speaking at a Jackson, Miss. press conference March 18, heading into a week of sentencing hearings for the six former Mississippi officers. Standing behind him, wearing a cross necklace, is his client, Michael Jenkins, who was shot in the mouth by one of the officers in Jan. 2023.

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Following up on a neighbor’s complaint that Black men were at the property, that January 2023 night, the squad unleashed their tasers 17 times on the cuffed men.

“They told me to get down,” Jenkins tells PEOPLE. “And I got down.”

Elward removed a bullet from its chamber and pushed his gun into Jenkins’s mouth.

<p>AP Photo/HG Biggs</p> A scar runs down Michael Corey Jenkins's neck, following the Jan. 2023 attack by White law enforcement officers.

AP Photo/HG Biggs

A scar runs down Michael Corey Jenkins's neck, following the Jan. 2023 attack by White law enforcement officers.

“I was looking up at him,” Jenkins tells PEOPLE. “He looked at me, in my eye. I looked at him.”

Elward pulled the trigger.

The first time, the gun did not discharge. The second time, the bullet "lacerated [Jenkins'] tongue, broke his jaw and exited out of his neck,” states the complaint.

As Jenkins “was bleeding on the floor,” officers concocted a cover story.

<p>Jenkins Family Member</p> Michael Jenkins was hospitalized for some 20 days following the Jan. 24, 2023 attack.

Jenkins Family Member

Michael Jenkins was hospitalized for some 20 days following the Jan. 24, 2023 attack.

Related: 6 Mississippi Officers Plead Guilty After Torturing 2 Black Men, Mocking Them with Racial Slurs

It was not the first time.

Just a month before breaking into the Braxton home, Elward, Dedmon and Opdyke stopped another man, identified as A.S. in separate federal charging documents obtained by PEOPLE.

Dedmon admitted to punching, kicking and tasing the man. Then, drawing near him, Dedmon discharged his gun “for the purpose of scaring” him “and coercing a confession.”

All three officers involved in that incident have pleaded guilty to deprivation against rights charges, with Dedmon also pleading guilty to a charge of discharge of a firearm in furtherance of crime of violence, the Department of Justice confirms to PEOPLE. They are being sentenced this week.

Elward is also separately named in a wrongful death suit related to another Black man, Damien Cameron in 2021.

<p>Rankin County Sheriff Department</p> Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey

Rankin County Sheriff Department

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey

In the months after his deputies admitted to torturing Parker and Jenkins, Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey ran unopposed, winning re-election in November.

PEOPLE reached out to Bailey multiple times over five days, with no response.

“Had Bryan Bailey been doing his job, none of this would have happened,” Malik Shabazz, a lawyer representing Jenkins and Perkins, said at a press conference this week. “How is it that officers are discharging their weapons, and you don’t even know that they’re discharging the weapons?” he said of Bailey.

“I mean that’s outrageous,” he added, referencing the lack of immediate action following A.S.’s assault. “You’re not even counting the bullets.”

Emily Palmer reported from Jackson, Miss.

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