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DOJ investigates agent accused of shoving guns into two black men’s mouths

BRANDON, Mississippi (AP) — Several deputies for Mississippi state sheriffs under investigation by the Justice Department for possible civil rights violations have been involved in at least four violent encounters with black men since 2019. Two people were killed and another suffered permanent injuries. Found an Associated Press survey.

Two of the men allege that Rankin County sheriff’s deputies shoved guns into their mouths during separate encounters. In one case, the lieutenant pulled the trigger, which left the man with a scar that required stitching up part of his tongue. In one of her two deadly confrontations, the man’s mother said her agent knelt on her son’s neck and told him he couldn’t breathe.

According to police and court records obtained by the Associated Press, several agents accepted into the Sheriff’s Office’s Special Response Team, a tactical unit whose members are highly trained, were involved in each of the four encounters. Three of them are heavily redacted documents that do not indicate whether they were serving as deputies in their regular capacity or as members of the unit.

Such units have come under scrutiny since the January murder of Tyre Nichols, a black father who died days after being severely beaten by a black member of a special police team in Memphis, Tennessee. led to similar squad investigations across the country by the Justice Department amid widespread public opinion over race and police, sparked by the 2020 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In Mississippi, the Justice Department has launched a civil rights investigation into the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department following the police shooting of Michael Corey Jenkins. Jenkins said six white lawmakers broke into his house while he was visiting a friend, and one opened fire with a gun in his mouth. Sharing some of Jenkins’ hospital records with his AP found that he had a lacerated tongue and a broken jaw.

A deputy said Jenkins was shot after pointing a gun at them. Authorities have not responded to multiple inquiries from his AP asking if weapons were found at the scene. Jenkins’ attorney, Malik Shabazz, said his client did not have a gun.

“They had total control over him the whole time. Six officers had total, total control over Michael the whole time,” Shabazz said. “So it’s just a fabrication.”

With about 120 sheriff’s deputies serving about 160,000 people, Rankin County, which is mostly white, is located just east of the state capital, Jackson, and has the highest proportion of black residents of any major U.S. city. One of the higher places. In the Brandon county seat, a towering granite and marble monument topped with a statue of a Confederate soldier stands opposite the Sheriff’s Office.

In notice of the upcoming lawsuit, lawyers for Jenkins and his friend Eddie Terrell Parker said that on the night of January 24, the attorneys suddenly came to their home, handcuffed them, and beat them. At one point, he was forced to lie on his back as a deputy squirted milk in his face.

Using Taser will automatically log you into your device’s memory. AP obtained a recording of an automated taser from the evening of January 24th. They show that the agent first fired one of his stun guns at 10:04 p.m., after which he fired at least three times in the next 65 minutes. However, these unedited records may not give you the full picture. Redacted records show that the Taser was turned on and off and used dozens of times during that period.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation was brought in to investigate the encounter. According to the summary, the lieutenant shot Jenkins at approximately 11:45 p.m., about 90 minutes after the taser was first used. The agency did not release the name of the deputy director.

Police said the raid was triggered by reports of drug activity at the home. Jenkins was charged with possessing 2 to 10 grams of methamphetamine and assaulting a police officer. Parker was charged with two misdemeanors of possession of a tool and disorderly conduct. Jenkins and Parker say the raid came to mind when the lieutenant shot Jenkins through the mouth. He still has difficulty speaking and eating.

Another black man, Kirvis Johnson, claimed in a federal lawsuit filed in 2020 that a Rankin County lieutenant put a gun in his mouth during a 2019 drug drive. Johnson was not shot.

Samuel Walker, professor emeritus of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska, said there was no reason for a police officer to hold a gun to a suspect’s mouth, and that there were two such incidents. , said it speaks for itself.

“If you have incidents with the same kind of behavior patterns, they have their own rules,” he said. “So these aren’t just random experiences. It looks like a very definite pattern.”

Jenkins does not know the name of the lieutenant who shot him. In a heavily redacted incident report, an unidentified lieutenant wrote, “I noticed a gun.” The unredacted section does not say who shot Jenkins, only that he was taken to the hospital. Deputy hunter Elward swore in separate court documents that Jenkins pointed a gun at him.

Elward’s name also appears in police reports and court records in two incidents in which suspects were murdered.

The sheriff’s office denied repeated requests for interviews and denied access to the deputies involved in the violent confrontation. The Justice Department didn’t say whether lawmakers served search warrants.

News insiders are investigating the sheriff’s department and have persuaded a county judge to order the sheriff to produce documents related to the deaths of four men in 2021. Supreme Court Justice Troy Farrell Odom expressed embarrassment at the department’s refusal to release the documents. .

“It’s a day when our law enforcement officers start hiding this information from the public and all the while, ‘Trust us. We’re from the government,’ will surprise all Americans,” Odom said. is writing

The AP requested body camera or dash cam footage of the night of the Jenkins raid. Sheriff’s Department attorney Jason Dare said there was no record of either.

Mississippi does not require police officers to wear body cameras. Incident reports and court records link the deputies from the attack to three other violent encounters with black men.

During the 2019 standoff, Elward said Pierre Woods pointed a gun at him as he was running towards Congressman. In a statement to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation obtained by AP, Elward said he shot Woods eight times. Police say they recovered Woods’ handgun at the scene of the shooting.

Another congressman who shot Woods, Christian Dedmon, was in Jenkins’ assault, according to court records.

Dedmon was also one of the agents involved in Johnson’s 2019 arrest. Johnson is currently incarcerated for selling methamphetamine.

Other documents obtained by AP detail another violent confrontation between Elward and Damian Cameron, a 29-year-old man with a history of mental illness. He died in July 2021 after being arrested by Elward and his deputy Luke Stickman, who also shot Woods during a 2019 standoff. A grand jury rejected the charges last October.

In the incident report, Elward wrote that while answering vandalism calls, he repeatedly tased Cameron, beat and wrestled Cameron at his mother, Monica Lee’s home. He said that after putting Cameron in a police car, he stunned him again and had his legs pulled into the car.

After returning inside to retrieve the taser, the deputies found Cameron unresponsive. Elward wrote that he dragged Cameron out of the car and gave him CPR, but Cameron was later pronounced dead in hospital.

Lee, who witnessed the confrontation, told the Associated Press that after subduing her son, Elward knelt on his back for several minutes. , said his son complained that he could not breathe.

Mr. Li said he went outside later because he wanted to talk to his son before lawmakers sent him away.

“I went out to say goodbye to him and tell him I loved him and that I would try to see him the next day. I realized that I was there,” Lee said. “I fell to the ground screaming.”

https://www.mystateline.com/news/doj-investigates-deputies-accused-of-shoving-guns-in-mouths-of-2-black-men/ DOJ investigates agent accused of shoving guns into two black men’s mouths

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