Two Black men, one of whom said he was shot in the mouth by a deputy while handcuffed, plan to sue a local sheriff’s department in Mississippi, claiming that deputies beat them and used “waterboarding techniques” and a stun gun on them during a raid in January, according to their lawyer.
A letter of intent to sue, sent to Rankin County officials in February by their lawyer, Malik Shabazz, said that the men, Michael Corey Jenkins, 32, and Eddie Terrell Parker, 35, were at Mr. Parker’s house in Braxton, a mostly white community about 25 miles south of Jackson, on Jan. 24, when six or seven sheriff’s deputies raided the home without a warrant.
For at least 90 minutes, Mr. Shabazz said in an interview on Wednesday, the deputies, who are white, handcuffed, beat and stunned the men with Tasers, and held guns to their heads, during an “extreme interrogation” in which they were accused of drug possession and “dating white women.”
Mr. Jenkins was shot in the mouth, with the bullet exiting his right jaw, Mr. Shabazz said. “The gun was placed inside of his mouth,” he said.
Mr. Shabazz said he was preparing to file a federal lawsuit in May against Rankin County, its sheriff’s department and the deputies involved.
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The Associated Press reported on the letter of intent on Monday, saying that the U.S. Department of Justice was conducting a larger investigation into the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department in Brandon, Miss., for possible civil rights violations involving Mr. Shabazz’s clients and other violent encounters with Black men.
The letter of intent said the men were also subjected to “waterboarding techniques.” Mr. Shabazz said the deputies put the handcuffed men on their backs and poured water and other liquids “on their faces and in their mouths in an attempt to get them to confess.”
Federal and state investigators began looking into the allegations shortly after the episode.
The F.B.I. said in February that its Jackson field office, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi had opened a civil rights investigation.
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety said in January that the state’s Bureau of Investigation was looking into the “officer involved shooting” on Jan. 24 at the home in Braxton. The department said that Rankin County deputies were conducting a narcotics investigation at the time when a person “displayed a gun toward the deputies.”
The Rankin County Sheriff’s Department did not respond this week to multiple requests for comments. Sheriff Bryan Bailey said in a statement quoted by The A.P. in February that he had “immediately” sought a state investigation. He said that Mr. Jenkins had been charged with assaulting an officer and drug possession and that Mr. Parker had been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and disorderly conduct.
He said, “If any deputy or suspect involved in this incident is found to have broken the law, he will be held accountable.”
The Justice Department did not reply this week to requests for comment about its broader investigation. According to The A.P., some Rankin County deputies in a special tactical unit were being investigated for possible civil rights violations in at least four encounters with Black men since 2019.
The A.P. report said that redacted police and court records did not specify whether the deputies were acting in their normal capacities or in their tactical unit duties when they raided Mr. Parker’s residence.
In the interview, Mr. Shabazz said there was no evidence that Mr. Jenkins and Mr. Parker, who are friends, had a gun or drugs when the raid occurred. He said that after the raid, Mr. Jenkins was taken to a hospital for multiple surgeries and was released, and that he now has permanent injuries. Mr. Jenkins shared hospital records with The A.P. that showed a lacerated tongue and a broken jaw.
Mr. Parker was taken to jail on a disorderly conduct charge and released the next day, Mr. Shabazz said.
Mr. Shabazz said the deputies turned off their body cameras during the episode. “We strongly deny all criminal charges and state that they are fabricated,” he said.
The Rankin County prosecutor did not immediately respond on Wednesday to phone messages and emails seeking comment.
Emily Schmall contributed reporting.