Prosecutors say some of the officers nicknamed themselves the “Goon Squad” because of their willingness to use excessive force and cover it up, including the attack that ended with a deputy shooting one victim in the mouth.
In January, the officers entered a house without a warrant and handcuffed and assaulted the two men with stun guns, a sex toy and other objects. The officers mocked them with racial slurs throughout a 90-minute torture session, then devised a cover-up that included planting drugs and a gun, leading to false charges that could have sent one victim to prison for years.
Their conspiracy unraveled months later, after one of them told the sheriff he had lied, leading to confessions from the others.
Each one agreed to sentences recommended by state prosecutors ranging from five to 30 years, although the judge isn’t bound by that. Time served for the state charges will run concurrently with federal sentences they are scheduled to receive. Each could get longer prison sentences in federal court in November.
The men include five former Rankin County sheriff’s deputies — Brett McAlpin, Hunter Elward, Christian Dedmon, Jeffrey Middleton and Daniel Opdyke — and a police officer from the city of Richland, Joshua Hartfield.
All six pleaded guilty to state charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to hinder prosecution.