Mississippi sheriff's deputies who are already under investigation for possible civil rights violations after allegedly placing a gun in a black man's mouth and firing it, they are also now being charged with attempting to assault him and a second black man with a sex gun. toy during questioning, The Associated Press has learned.
The allegations are contained in a letter to the Justice Department written by the attorney for Michael Corey Jenkins, who provided a copy to the AP. In it, attorney Malik Shabazz urges federal prosecutors to file civil rights charges against the deputies and open a broader investigation into what he called the "unconstitutional customs and practices" of the entire sheriff's office.
Jenkins accused six officers of breaking into a house where he was visiting a friend on January 24, putting a gun to his mouth and shooting him after nearly two hours of "torture."
“This extreme case of police brutality justifies enforcement of criminal civil rights laws on the books,” Shabazz said in a statement. “Sheriff Bryan Bailey and Rankin County are covering up the truth of what happened on January 24, and all parties must be held accountable.”
In his letter Monday to Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department, Shabazz called for an investigation into a "pattern and practice of police misconduct and police brutality" in Rankin County. Neither the sheriff's office nor an attorney representing the office responded to calls or an emailed list of questions about the allegations.
In a statement, the Justice Department said the civil rights investigation into Jenkins' case is ongoing and declined to comment further.
A AP investigation published in March revealed that several Rankin County deputies had been involved in at least four violent encounters with black men since 2019 that left two dead and another permanently injured. Two of the men, including Jenkins, allege the officers put guns in their mouths during separate encounters.
Jenkins and his friend Eddie Terrell Parker said that on the night of January 24, six white Rankin County officers burst into the house where Parker lived and proceeded to handcuff and beat them. They said officers repeatedly shocked them with stun guns for approximately 90 minutes, at one point forcing them to lie on their backs while officers poured milk in their faces.
Both Jenkins and Parker also told Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents that the agents stripped them naked, forced them to shower together and attempted to use a sex toy on them during an hour-long questioning, according to the letter, which was accompanied. for a photo of the toy.
Jenkins, who has trouble speaking and eating due to his injuries, said one of the officers, who has not been publicly identified, fired a gun into his mouth. Medical records he shared with the AP show he was treated for a lacerated tongue and a broken jaw.
Deputies said Jenkins was shot after he pointed a gun at them. The Sheriff's Office has not responded to multiple inquiries from the AP about whether a weapon was found at the scene. Shabazz said his client didn't have a gun.
Jenkins was charged with possessing between 2 and 10 grams of methamphetamine and aggravated assault on a police officer. Parker was charged with two misdemeanors: possession of paraphernalia and disorderly conduct. Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents told the men they did not expect criminal charges against them to proceed, Shabazz wrote in his letter.
Meanwhile, “No deputies have been disciplined or fired by Rankin County and all deputies continue to roam the general public,” Shabazz wrote.
The Rankin County Sheriff's Office has not said if any of the deputies were temporarily placed on leave following the incident.
A spokesperson for the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation declined to comment, citing an "ongoing and open investigation."
Police and court records obtained by the AP show that multiple officers who were accepted into the sheriff's office's Special Response Team, a tactical unit whose members receive advanced training, were involved in each of the four violent encounters with the black men. .
These units have come under scrutiny since the January murder of Tire Nichols, a black father who died days after being severely beaten by black members of a special police team in Memphis, Tennessee. Nichol's death led to a Justice Department investigation of similar squads across the country.
Shabazz said a broader investigation into the Rankin County Sheriff's Office would fit in with previous Justice Department examinations of other departments across the country, including police departments in Ferguson, Missouri and Louisville, Kentucky .