BRAXTON, Miss. — A 32-year-old Black man came close to death last month when he was shot in the mouth while handcuffed during a drug raid in this small, predominately white village, according to an attorney for his family. Six white sheriff’s deputies falsely accused him and a friend of selling drugs and “dating white women,” according to Malik Shabazz, who is representing the family of Michael Corey Jenkins.
Jenkins was inside the home of Eddie T. Parker in Braxton, Mississippi, the evening of Jan. 24 when the deputies burst through the front door and handcuffed the men while searching Parker’s residence. When the officers didn’t find anything, they used “excessive interrogation methods to coerce a confession,” Shabazz said in an interview with Capital B.
For nearly two hours, the men were held by officers with the Rankin County Sheriff’s Department, and repeatedly punched, kicked, slapped, and shocked with stun guns, Shabazz said. In a press release, the attorney called it a “free-for-all intimidation and torture session” that included death threats by the deputies. They also poured liquids from Parker’s refrigerator — beer, milk, water — over their faces, Shabazz said.
Read more: ‘I Was on My Knees, Handcuffed’: Black Man Shot By Mississippi Police Tells His Story
At some point, one of the officers pulled out his service weapon and shot Jenkins in the mouth while he was handcuffed, the attorney said.
Shabazz, who is the founder and national director of Black Lawyers For Justice, said the officers violated Jenkins’ and Parker’s constitutional rights, turning the private residence into a “detention center” and taking the modem to the security system.
Rankin County Sheriff’s Department representative Randy Gray told Capital B over the phone on Feb. 9 that he could not release information about the case because it is under investigation. Capital B has submitted a public records request for the police report and other related documents.
Shabazz said Jenkins has been charged with aggravated assault and Parker, 35, has been charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction of justice. The Rankin County prosecutor’s office said it has no record of Jenkins, nor did the Rankin County Justice Court clerk’s office.
Shabazz says his organization’s independent investigation found that the sheriff’s department filed “false charges to try and blame the shooting” on Jenkins.
“They use criminal charges as a part of how they intimidate. Part of our job is that we have to go into these tough areas of Mississippi and we have to stand up for our brothers and sisters in Rankin County to let them know to fear not, we know what you have been going through,” Shabazz said.
Warning: Graphic image
As of Monday, Jenkins was in the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital where he underwent at least two surgeries, according to Shabazz. Jenkins’ family took a photograph of him in the hospital about two weeks after the shooting giving a thumbs up, but his road to recovery will be long. The bullet to his mouth caused permanent injuries to his brain, the attorney said, and he has lost the ability to speak because his tongue was surgically removed due to damage by the bullet.
“He has only recently been able to articulate what happened by writing,” Shabazz said. He added that, for days, Jenkins’ hospital room was surrounded by officers from the sheriff’s department, and his parents were not allowed to see him.
“There’s no way for anybody to see him and I’m concerned for my son’s life, that something may happen to him,” his mother, Mary Jenkins, wrote on a GoFundMe page for her son’s hospital and legal expenses.
At her home in Braxton, Mississippi, on Wednesday, Mary Jenkins confirmed that Shabazz is representing her family and that he instructed her not to provide interviews to the media. She said that she will be attending a press conference with her family and Shabazz on Wednesday afternoon.
The day after the raid, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation issued a press release that vaguely described a narcotics investigation in Braxton that left “the subject” hospitalized. The agency also said that Rankin County Sheriff’s Department deputies “encountered a subject that displayed a gun towards the deputies.” Michael Jenkins denied having a gun in writing to his attorney and family, Shabazz said.
The MBI said in an email to Capital B on Feb. 10 that because this is an open investigation, they won’t confirm or deny the identity of “the subject” involved or make any further comments. Shabazz said on Monday that Jenkins was interviewed by MBI about what happened that night.
This isn’t the first time the Rankin sheriff’s department has been accused of this level of brutality against Black residents. At least five people died during an encounter with the department during an eight-month period in 2021, according to an investigation from Insider.
Shabazz says he intends on teaming up with the attorneys for the families of those other victims.
Staff writer Aallyah Wright reported from Rankin County, Mississippi.