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Criminal charges called for against deputies, officer in alleged assault of two Black men

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(NEW YORK) — As the investigation involving two Black men allegedly assaulted by one officer and five deputies continues, national activists and Mississippi residents held two press conferences Wednesday urging for criminal charges to be brought against all parties allegedly involved.

The men involved, Eddie Terrell Parker and Michael Jenkins, with support from their attorneys and community, also demanded the termination and prosecution of Rankin County Mississippi Sheriff Bryan Bailey “for operating a criminal police department that tortures Black people and American citizens.”

On Jan. 24, five Rankin County deputies and one Richland Police Department officer entered the residence of Jenkins and Parker without a warrant that resulted in both Black men being beaten, sexually assaulted with a sex toy and shocked with Tasers for roughly 90 minutes while handcuffed, according to the attorneys. According to the lawsuit, officers attempted to sexually assault the men with a sex toy before making them shower together.

Eggs were also hurled at the two men, and Jenkins was shot in the mouth by one of the deputies, the lawsuit states. Deputies say they were there to carry out a late drug raid.

Attorneys for Jenkins and Parker are also pushing for the arrest and indictment of all six officers mentioned in the lawsuit allegedly involved in the shooting of Jenkins, urging criminal charges against these officers.

The press conferences outside the Attorney General’s office and the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department came just days after Richland County Police Chief Nick McLendon announced that former Officer Joshua Hartfield, was “implicated” in the Jan. 24 incident and has since resigned from the department.

The release also details that Hartfield was off-duty at the time of the incident.

“We must express our deepest disappointment that a member of our department is claimed to be involved in a situation that goes against our department’s commitment to serve and protect the public,” McLendon said in the release. “Upon receiving the information regarding the allegations against Hartfield, immediate action was taken in line with our strict standards of responsibility and accountability. Hartfield was placed on administrative leave, subjected to disciplinary action, and subsequently tendered his resignation from the Richland Police Department.”

Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office declined to comment due to the active investigation.

“She has the power to put charges towards those officers for what they did,” said activist John C. Barnett, referring to the attorney general. “She also has the power to investigate and charge Chief Bailey.”

The lawsuit alleges Bailey failed to discipline and reprimand the defendants.

Priscilla Williams-Till, a family member of Emmett Till and founder of the Emmett Till Justice for Families Foundation, was also present during the press conferences.

“As a family member of Emmett Till, 68 years ago we still did not get justice for Emmett Till,” Williams-Till said during the press conference. “Today I stand here as a spokesperson on behalf of these families, to say give them justice.”

Last week, Bailey announced that the four remaining Rankin County Sheriff’s Department deputies allegedly involved in the incident were terminated, with one previously resigning before the announcement.

“We have cooperated with all investigation efforts related to this incident and have provided all information and data requested in a timely manner,” Bailey said in his release. “This will continue until all investigative efforts are complete and justice is served. We cannot, however, confirm or deny any specific facts related to this incident because of active and ongoing investigations.”

Bailey did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request to comment.

Jenkins and Parker filed a lawsuit last month in collaboration with Black Lawyers for Justice against the sheriff’s department and related parties seeking $400 million in damages.

Although Sheriff Bailey did not name the deputies who have resigned or been terminated, the defendants in the plaintiffs’ lawsuit include Rankin County Deputies Hunter Elward, Brett Mc’Alpin and Christian Dedmon, and three unidentified deputies under the name “John Doe.”

None of the named officers immediately responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

The incident is currently under investigation by the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) and the Department of Justice.

“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 FBI will conduct the investigation in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner,” the FBI Jackson statement read.

Due to the ongoing investigation, the National Press Office for the FBI and MBI declined comment.

Bailey and McLendon both announced they are fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

Jenkins was charged with aggravated assault and the possession of two grams of a controlled substance in the January event. Parker was charged with obstruction of justice, according to the attorneys.

Both Jenkins and Parker deny the substance found in the residence belonged to them.

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