AG Garland makes statement on sentencings of former Mississippi law enforcement officers

Published 4:39 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

WASHINGTON – Two former Mississippi law enforcement officers were sentenced today (Tuesday, March 19) for the torture and abuse of two Black men in Rankin County.

Hunter Elward, 31, a former Rankin County Sheriff’s Office (RCSO) deputy, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Jeffrey Middleton, 46, a former RCSO lieutenant, was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison.

Four more defendants, all former Mississippi law enforcement officers, will be sentenced tomorrow and Thursday. In 2023, all six defendants pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging them with multiple felony offenses, including civil rights conspiracy, deprivation of rights under color of law, discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, conspiracy to obstruct justice, and obstruction of justice.

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The Justice Department issued the following statement from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland:

“These defendants will spend  20 years and 17.5 years in prison for their heinous attack on citizens they had sworn an oath to protect,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “These defendants kicked in the door of a home where two Black men were residing, handcuffed and arrested them without probable cause, called them racial slurs, and punched, kicked, tased, and assaulted them. After one of the defendants fired his gun in the mouth of one of the victims, breaking his jaw, the defendants gathered outside to come up with a cover story as the victim lay bleeding on the floor. The Justice Department will hold accountable officers who violate constitutional rights, and in so doing, betray the public trust.”