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DOJ opens civil rights investigation after Black man shot in face by deputy

Black Lawyers for Justice

(BRANDON, Miss.) — The shooting of a Black man in Mississippi during a drug raid is the subject of a federal civil rights investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

The Justice Department was joined by the FBI and federal prosecutors in making the announcement Wednesday.

“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 Jackson statement read. “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.”

The incident at the center of the probe involved a late-night drug raid in Rankin County on Jan. 24. During the raid, 32-year-old Michael Corey Jenkins suffered a bullet wound to the face.

The police involved in the incident say the shot occurred after someone pointed a gun at the officers. Malik Shabazz, an attorney for Jenkins, says the shooting was a racially motivated attack and plans to file a civil rights complaint with the county.

“A major lawsuit is coming,” Shabazz told ABC News. “Our main objective right now is that the officers must be criminally charged.”

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation also will be conducting an investigation.

MBI spokesperson Bailey Martin did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

“The local authorities, MBI and others, are finally seeming like they’re going to take the illegal actions of Rankin County deputies seriously. They have continuously done this over the years.”

Shabazz filed a notice of claim Thursday morning, as required by the state of Mississippi, and in 90 days plans to file a civil lawsuit.

Jenkins claimed six deputies entered his residence.

Eddie Terrell Parker also was in the residence and claimed officers did not have a search warrant and all officers abused the two men while handcuffed.

Shabazz also represents Parker.

“These officers used and violated the laws of excessive force, illegal search and seizure, inadequate training and supervision against Rankin County. They don’t supervise and monitor anything,” Shabazz said during Wednesday’s press conference in Jackson, Mississippi.

Jenkins was released Tuesday from the University of Mississippi Medical Center after undergoing two surgeries to treat mouth and head injuries, including the surgical removal of his tongue, according to Shabazz, who added Jenkins currently has trouble speaking.

For a period of 90 minutes, the alleged abuse included being shocked with tasers and waterboarded with various liquids around the house, including milk, while handcuffed. This abuse was before a gun was placed inside Jenkins’ mouth and then fired, according to Shabazz.

“They sat there and pelted the men with eggs when they were on their knees handcuffed,” Shabazz told ABC News.

Parker, 35, described the night as something he never thought he would go through.

“I mean, we were beaten. We were handcuffed,” Parker said during the conference. “It was traumatizing, man. It was a night of hell.”

The Rankin County Sheriff’s Department released a statement following the DOJ’s announcement: “Multiple suspects were taken into custody, and we contacted the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations to investigate the actions of our deputies. We are fully cooperating with that 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.”

The department told ABC News that they did not wish to provide any further comment.

According to the attorney, Jenkins has been charged with aggravated assault and the possession of 2 grams of a controlled substance. Parker has been charged with obstruction of justice.

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

Shabazz told ABC News that these charges are on “no basis.”

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