The Rankin County Sheriff’s Office in Mississippi has fired multiple deputies after two Black men filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging six White deputies entered their private residence illegally and tortured them for nearly two hours.
“Due to recent developments, including findings during our internal investigation, those deputies that were still employed by this department have all been terminated,” Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said during a news conference Tuesday, without specifying the number of deputies fired or their names. The deputies had been on administrative leave, the sheriff said, and he declined to comment on specific allegations.
The terminations come roughly two weeks after Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker filed a lawsuit alleging six deputies entered their Braxton home in January and handcuffed, kicked, waterboarded, repeatedly used Tasers on the men and attempted to sexually assault them. One deputy also put a gun in Jenkins’ mouth and shot him, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit, filed June 12 in the US District Court in Mississippi, names Bailey and six deputies as defendants and seeks $400 million in damages.
It comes amid nationwide scrutiny of police use of force, especially against Black people, including the shooting of 11-year-old Aderrien Murry in Indianola, Mississippi, last month, the fatal shooting of Alonzo Bagley in Shreveport, Louisiana, in February and the beating death of Tyre Nichols by officers in Memphis, Tennessee, in January.
During the January 24 incident, deputies “forced their entry into the premises from several entry points without a warrant,” and with no “reasonable suspicion or probable cause” for entering the home, the lawsuit said.
The sheriff has previously said the deputies were at the home on that day for drug enforcement activities, CNN affiliate WAPT reported.
Jenkins and Parker were handcuffed when the deputies, who had turned their body-worn cameras off, began punching and slapping them, according to the lawsuit. “Throughout the nearly two-hour ordeal, the six deputies would punch and beat two handcuffed men at will, hurting and humiliating both Jenkins and Parker. Deputies also repeatedly and gratuitously kicked the men as if they were animals while they lay subdued and handcuffed,” the lawsuit says.
Additionally, the deputies waterboarded Jenkins and Parker by “continuously pouring the liquids on their faces while both men were handcuffed … and forced on their backs,” according to the lawsuit.
During these acts, the deputies used “vicious racial slurs,” including the n-word and “monkey” and accused them of “dating White women,” the suit alleges.
“In their repeated use of racial slurs in the course of their violent acts, (the deputies) were oppressive and hateful against their African- American victims. Defendants were motivated on the basis of race and the color of the skin of the persons they assaulted,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit also alleges that multiple deputies attempted to use a sexual device against Jenkins and Parker, threw eggs at them and forced them to shower together.
The deputies had “custody and control” of Jenkins and Parker during the incident, and neither of the men resisted or tried to run from the deputies, the lawsuit says.
Despite their compliance, deputies “placed their guns to the heads of both handcuffed men and threatened to kill them.”
As the assault reached its peak, the lawsuit alleges, a deputy placed a gun in Jenkins’ mouth and shot him, lacerating his tongue and shattering his jaw.
After Jenkins was shot, “he was severely injured, left alone to care for and treat himself as he stumbled out the door and fell,” the suit says.
“For twenty or more minutes, each deputy consciously and deliberately disregarded their specific duty to render medical attention,” the lawsuit says. When emergency medical personnel arrived, Jenkins was taken to a hospital and underwent multiple surgeries, the lawsuit states.
“Unfortunately, Jenkins has suffered permanent physical injuries, permanent cognitive damage, long-term psychological damage, permanent disfigurement, and impairment,” the suit says. Parker also sought medical attention for injuries suffered during the incident, according to the lawsuit.
CNN has reached out to Malik Shabazz, a lawyer for Jenkins and Parker, for comment.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation conducted an independent investigation, Bailey said. CNN has asked the MBI for details on the investigation.
The FBI Jackson Field Office, the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi have opened a civil rights investigation into the incident. CNN has reached out to the US Department of Justice for comment.
The sheriff’s office has retained a compliance officer “for monitoring of our daily operations and to ensure our department remains compliant with all state and federal law,” Bailey said Tuesday.