Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey claims he is working with federal authorities investigating six white deputies for waterboarding and shooting a Black victim in the face.
Six white Rankin County, MS sheriff’s deputies allegedly waterboarded and shot a Rankin Black man in the mouth while he was handcuffed, claims Washington D.C. attorney Malik Zulu Shabazz.
“We are demanding hate crime charges be brought against these officers; because of the race of the perpetrator, the race of the victims, and the racist language that was used while committing these crimes against these men,” Shabazz told reporters this week, in Jackson. “We … are demanding that all six officers involved in the January 25 shooting in the mouth of Michael Jenkins … be immediately indicted, arrested, and brought into custody.”
Shabazz, who is working on behalf of Jenkins to sue the Rankin County Sheriff’s office for civil rights violations, said deputies failed to present a warrant before forcing their way into the home. They then attacked Michael Jenkins and another man, Eddie Terrell Parker. Shabazz said neither of the men resisted during a 90-minute “torture session” as deputies held them down and poured various liquids from house containers onto their faces. Deputies allegedly called them N-words while dumping milk and chemicals on their faces. Shabazz said one of the deputies eventually forced his gun into Jenkins’ mouth and discharged it, destroying Jenkins’ jaw and shredding his tongue.
“It’s only by God’s grace that he stands here today because the bullet escaped on the right side of his neck,” Shabazz said.
Rankin County Sheriff Bryan Bailey charged Jenkins with assaulting an officer and drug possession, and Parker with possession of paraphernalia and disorderly conduct. Shabazz countered this week that neither men have a record of breaking the law.
The FBI Jackson Field Office told The Lighthouse, in an email, that they are joining several other agencies in investigating Jenkins’ claims.
“The FBI Jackson Field Office, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi have opened a federal civil rights investigation into a color of law incident involving the Rankin County Sheriff's Office,” the office wrote. “The FBI will conduct the investigation in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner. As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to comment further at this time.”
Kristi Shanks, Administrative Assistant at Rankin County Sheriff’s Office, did not return calls to The Lighthouse to confirm if the department is planning to release body cam footage of the January 25 incident. As of February 17, Sheriff Bailey has not confirmed whether deputies involved have even been placed on administrative leave.
Bailey told reporters only that “multiple suspects were taken into custody” and that his department “contacted the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations to investigate the actions of our deputies.” He claims that his office is “fully cooperating with [the DOJ’s] ongoing investigation and will continue to do so.”
“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,” Bailey stated.
But that’s not historically what happens when police commit violent crimes in Mississippi. In this state, with its long history of police violence and discrimination against Black citizens, juries are more likely to find police innocent of even the most obvious abuse.
In 2019, a federal judge dismissed a federal evidence-tampering charge against a Mississippi sheriff's deputy who wrongfully shot a man in the back in 2013 and then planted his baton next to the victim’s body to make him look like a threat. Mississippi juries repeatedly failed to convict Bolivar County Deputy Walter Grant of either manslaughter or evidence tampering, despite multiple witnesses of his abuse. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Mississippi attorney general's office even concluded in their investigation that Grant did indeed plant the baton to make it appear Bingham was armed, but this did nothing to sway a Mississippi jury.
While state juries waffle over evidence and skew toward police innocence, Jenkins’ mother, Mary Jenkins, says her son must deal with a shattered jaw. The bullet, she said, exited her son’s face through his ear.
“How many mothers have to stand here and tell people about their son because of the color of their skin?” Jenkins told reporters. “Why should my son die or get hurt because he was born Black? It’s not right, and something has to be done about it.”
Bailey has not released the names of the involved deputies to the public as of Feb. 17, but the Lighthouse will continue to monitor the story for updates and report as they come.