Six Former Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Sentenced for Civil Rights Violations

Published 12:18 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

Six former law enforcement officers from Rankin County, Mississippi, received prison sentences this week for civil rights violations against two Black men. Senior District Judge Tom Lee issued prison terms ranging from 10 to 40 years for the defendants.

Christian Dedmon, 29, former Narcotics Investigator of the Rankin County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO), received the longest sentence of 40 years. Brett McAlpin, 53, former RCSO Chief Investigator, was sentenced to 27.25 years. Hunter Elward, 31, former RCSO Deputy, received a 20-year sentence. Jeffrey Middleton, 46, former RCSO Lieutenant, and Daniel Opdyke, 28, former RCSO Deputy, were each sentenced to 17.5 years. Joshua Hartfield, 32, former Narcotics Investigator for the Richland Police Department, received a 10-year sentence.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland described the crimes as egregious, highlighting the defendants’ forcible entry into a home, handcuffing of the residents without probable cause, racial slurs, and physical assaults. Garland emphasized the severity of the attack, including the firing of a gun in one victim’s mouth, resulting in severe injury.

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FBI Director Christopher Wray stressed the importance of seeking justice for victims of civil rights violations. The six defendants pleaded guilty to a range of felony offenses, including civil rights conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, and obstruction of justice.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke underscored the severity of the defendants’ actions and praised the victims for their courage in coming forward. She emphasized the significant sentences imposed, reflecting the gravity of the defendant’s conduct and serving as a deterrent against future abuses of power.

U.S. Attorney Todd Gee for the Southern District of Mississippi condemned the defendants’ abuse of authority and pledged accountability within law enforcement. He acknowledged the collaborative effort across federal and state agencies in pursuing justice for the victims.

Acting Special Agent in Charge Maher Dimachkie of the FBI Jackson Field Office reiterated the commitment to ethical conduct within law enforcement and emphasized the need to hold individuals accountable for misusing their authority.

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch expressed solidarity with the victims and emphasized the importance of collaboration in pursuing truth and justice. Commissioner Sean Tindell of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety highlighted the effectiveness of joint efforts between state and federal agencies in prosecuting such cases.

The sentences reflect the consequences of abusing power and violating civil rights. The case underscores ongoing efforts to ensure accountability and uphold justice within law enforcement, aiming to rebuild trust and restore confidence in the criminal justice system.