RANKIN COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – A federal judge has postponed sentencing for six former Mississippi law enforcement officers who pled guilty to a long list of federal charges for torturing two Black men in January.

According to court documents, U.S. District Judge Tom Lee rescheduled the hearings for the former officers on the following dates:

  • Hunter Elward – January 16, 2024
  • Jeffrey Middleton – January 16, 2024
  • Christian Dedmon – January 18, 2024
  • Daniel Opdyke – January 18, 2024
  • Joshua Hartfield – January 19, 2024
  • Brett McAlpin – January 19, 2024

The men admitted in August to subjecting Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker to numerous acts of racially motivated, violent torture.

After a neighbor told one of the former officers that the two were staying at a home in Braxton with a white woman, he assembled a group of five other officers. They burst into the home without a warrant and assaulted Jenkins and Parker with stun guns, a sex toy and other objects, prosecutors said in court, reading a lengthy description of the abuse.

The officers taunted the men with racial slurs and poured milk, alcohol and chocolate syrup over their faces. After a mock execution went awry and Jenkins was shot in the mouth, they devised a coverup that included planting drugs and a gun. False charges stood against Jenkins and Parker for months.

The conspiracy unraveled after one officer told the sheriff he had lied, leading to confessions from the others.

  • Former Rankin County sheriff’s deputy Daniel Opdyke appears in the Rankin County Circuit Court in Brandon, Miss., Monday, Aug. 14, 2023. Opdyke is one of six white former Mississippi law officers that pleaded guilty to state charges on Monday for torturing two Black men in a racist assault. All six had recently admitted their guilt in a connected federal civil rights case. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Former Rankin County sheriff’s Deputies Brett McAlpin, Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke, and former Richland city police Officer Joshua Hartfield, who was off duty during the assault, pleaded guilty to numerous federal and state charges including assault, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

The charges followed an investigation by The Associated Press that linked some of the deputies to at least four violent encounters with Black men since 2019 that left two dead and another with lasting injuries.

Prosecutors say some of the officers called themselves the “Goon Squad” for of their willingness to use excessive force and cover up attacks.

They agreed to prosecutor-recommended sentences ranging from five to 30 years, although the judge isn’t bound by that. Time served for separate convictions at the state level will run concurrently with the potentially longer federal sentences.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.