Mississippi sheriff whose deputies tortured Black people and called themselves the 'Goon Squad' wins reelection

This April 10, 2018 photograph, shows the Rankin County Detention Center and Sheriff's Office in Brandon, Miss.
The Rankin County Detention Center and Sheriff's Office in Brandon, Miss.Associated Press
  • Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey won reelection after running unopposed.

  • Bailey refused to resign after five Rankin sheriff's deputies were convicted of torturing Black men.

  • The Rankin County chapter of the NAACP started a petition calling for Bailey to resign.

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey has overseen a department in Mississippi with a disturbingly violent history.

Five people died in the custody of his department in 2021, and five of Bailey's deputies were convicted earlier this year for torturing and sexually assaulting two Black men.

Those deputies called themselves the "Goon Squad" for their willingness to use excessive force.

But while his deputies are now in jail, Bailey himself has thus far avoided responsibility. And now he's been reelected for another term after an uncontested vote.

Bailey won reelection on Tuesday with nearly 30,000 votes. While there was no official entrant to contest the election, more than 5,000 people voted for a write-in. There were another 6,300 undervotes, which are votes that are nullified due to unclear markings or other reasons. Bailey also received more than 21,000 votes in a primary election in August.

Rankin County, home to several Jackson suburbs, is the largest county in Mississippi, with a population of almost 160,000, according to the US Census.

Six officers who called themselves the "Goon Squad" pleaded guilty on August 3 to federal charges in connection to the attack on two Black men in January. Five were deputies for the Rankin County Sheriff's Office, and one was an officer for the Richland Police Department.

The officers — Brett McAlpin, Jeffrey Middleton, Christian Dedmon, Hunter Elward, Daniel Opdyke, and Joshua Hartfield — broke into the home of Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker in Braxton, Mississippi, on January 24. The officer beat and sexually assaulted the two men before Elward eventually shot Jenkins in the mouth, according to a criminal complaint.

Bailey, who ran unopposed, had previously faced calls from activists, community members, and victim's families to resign. On October 23, the NAACP started a petition calling for Bailey's resignation, citing the actions of the "Goon Squad."

Angela English, president of the Rankin County chapter of the NAACP, said she "shudders" at the thought of another term for Bailey. She pointed to the department's history of violence and corruption during a press conference on October 23, according to WLBT.

"You just don't go creating home invasions to get what you want, and you don't torture people and hold them hostage without having justifiable, legal reasons," English said.

Bailey insisted that he was unaware of his employee's behavior that led to the crimes and has vowed several times to remain in office.

Following the conviction of the six officers in August, Bailey said he planned to "fix these problems and try to leave this place in better shape than I found it."

On October 4, Bailey's Undersheriff Paul Holley announced his resignation. Holley's announcement followed an investigation by The New York Times and Mississippi Today, which revealed that the local district attorney investigated Bailey for illegally subpoenaing his girlfriend's phone records in 2014.

Jason Dare, an attorney for the sheriff's department, told SuperTalk radio that Bailey did not plan to step down following the NAACP petition.

According to the outlet, Bailey received a $21,059 raise less than two weeks after the "Goon Squad" attacked the two Black men, bringing his total salary to $140,059, higher than that of Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves.

Bailey did not immediately return Insder's request for comment.

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