Michael Jenkins, left, and Eddie Parker listen in during a Wednesday, June 28, news conference held to respond to Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey's firing of five officers accused of beating and torturing them in January. The men did not comment because of ongoing civil litigation and an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Credit: Photo courtesy of Black Lawyers for Justice

The mother of a man allegedly tortured and shot in the mouth by a Rankin County sheriff’s deputy earlier this year and another mother of a man beaten, tased and killed by deputies in 2021 said the recent firing of deputies accused of misconduct is not enough.

They want to see criminal charges. 

“It’s not enough to fire those deputies because all they will do is go on to another police department and do the same thing,” said Mary Jenkins, whose son Michael almost died when a deputy placed a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. 

“They treated our children as if they weren’t even human,” she said during a Wednesday press conference.  

Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey announced Tuesday that deputies accused of beating and torturing Michael Jenkins and Eddie Parker have been fired. Bailey did not name the deputies or specify how many were let go, but did say some remedial measures have been put in place, such as the hiring of a compliance officer and review of the department’s policies and training. 

Malik Shabazz, an attorney representing the men, said it is now up to Attorney General Lynn Fitch to secure a criminal indictment for the deputies. 

The U.S. Department of Justice and FBI opened an investigation in February into the incident.

On Jan. 24, six deputies conducting a drug investigation raided the home of Jenkins and Parker and, over the course of 90 minutes, allegedly subjected them to torture in the form of waterboarding, attempted sexual assault and threats of death by having guns pointed at them. The men’s attorneys say the deputies entered the home without a warrant and that their clients have been wrongly charged.

Attorneys have said they were charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia, but drugs weren’t found. Deputies also said Jenkins pointed a gun at a deputy, but a firewarm wasn’t recovered.

A $400 million lawsuit against the sheriff, county and department detailing the men’s experience named three of six deputies allegedly involved in the incident: Hunter Elward, Brett McAlpin and Christian Dedmon. 

Bailey didn’t specify how many deputies he fired. Attorneys for the men said the sheriff fired five deputies, but their clients have been clear that there were six. The attorneys asked who the remaining person is and why they have been allowed to keep their job. 

Jenkins and Parker appeared on camera during the press conference, but they did not comment because of the ongoing civil lawsuit. 

For Monica Lee, termination isn’t enough because deputies have not been held accountable for the death of her son, Damien Cameron,  two years ago, nor has the family received sufficient answers from the sheriff’s office. 

On July 26, 2021, deputies responded to a vandalism call reported by a neighbor who accused Cameron of the damage, according to an incident report obtained by Insider. Elward was one of the deputies at the scene who punched, tased and chased Cameron. 

Lee believes that if the sheriff had taken action against the deputies involved in her son’s death, maybe what happened to Jenkins and Parker could have been prevented. 

“Had (the sheriff) got rid of them when he killed my son, it would have never happened to Michael,” Lee said Wednesday while seated next to Mary Jenkins. 

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Mina, a California native, covers the criminal justice system. Before joining Mississippi Today, she was a reporter for the Clarion Ledger and newspapers in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and USA Today.