The FBI has launched a federal civil rights investigation into the alleged beating and waterboarding torture of two Black men, one of whom miraculously survived a bullet to the face, by sheriff deputies in a drug raid in Mississippi.
The FBI announced its investigation into the arrests of Michael Corey Jenkins, 32, and Eddie Terrell Parker, 35, by Rankin County Sheriff’s deputies on Jan. 24 at a home in Braxton, Miss., 25 miles south of Jackson.
“The FBI will conduct the investigation in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner,” said the statement on Wednesday. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time.”
In a statement, Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey said multiple suspects were taken into custody, and his agency contacted the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation to investigate the deputies’ actions.
“We are fully cooperating with that ongoing investigation and will continue to do so,” the statement said. “Rest assured, if any deputy or suspect involved in this incident is found to have broken the law, he will be held accountable in accordance with the law.”
At a news conference on Wednesday, civil rights attorney Malik Shabazz said six white deputies raided the home without warning or warrants. They forced their way in and immediately subdued and handcuffed the men, he said.
Next was a 90-minute “intimidation and torture session,” where he said excessive force was used gratuitously on the handcuffed men.
He said deputies repeatedly punched, kicked and shocked them with Tasers before waterboarding them. He said racial slurs were used. Deputies repeatedly pointed guns at their heads and threatened to kill them, he said.
He said they were put on their backs and had “milk, alcohol, whatever could be found in the house” poured on their faces to “try to make the men believe that they were somehow drowning … to try to elicit some kind of confession,” Shabazz said.
He said at the end of it, while still in handcuffs, Jenkins had a gun placed in his mouth by a Rankin County deputy, and the trigger was pulled. A bullet went into his mouth and out of his ear.
Miraculously Jenkins survived after life-saving surgeries to repair ruptured arteries.
“Michael is lucky to be alive,” Shabazz said.
Shabazz said Jenkins gave an interview with authorities from the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation from his hospital bed. Shabazz said the six deputies broke the law, called for their immediate arrests, and said he’s filing a federal lawsuit for civil rights violations.
Parker said he and Jenkins did nothing wrong and did not resist. He’s traumatized and can’t sleep.
“Every little noise makes me look around,” he said. “I’m wondering if they’re coming back. I can’t even think. All I know is the pain. All I know is I’m glad to be alive.”
Jenkins’ mother, Mary, said her son’s jaw was shattered and had to be wired shut.
“It was as if my son was not even human,” she said. “How many mothers have to stand here and tell these people about their son because of the color of their skin?”
The news comes after United Nations human rights experts accused U.S. law enforcement of violating international law and called out “police culture” over the in-custody deaths of Keenan Anderson and Tyre Nichols last month.
Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at a memorial service for Nichols on Feb. 1 at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, Tennessee.
“This is a family that lost their son and their brother through an act of violence at the hands and the feet of people who had been charged with keeping them safe,” she said. “And when I think about the courage and the strength of this family, I think it demands that we speak truth. And with this, I will say: This violent act was not in pursuit of public safety. It was not in the interest of keeping the public safe. Because one must ask: Was not it in the interest of keeping the public safe that Tyre Nichols would be with us here today? Was he not also entitled to the right to be safe?”
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