Sheriff Bryan Bailey of Rankin County is seeking qualified immunity in a civil lawsuit stemming from an incident where his deputies allegedly mistreated two men, Michael Corey Jenkins and Eddie Terrell Parker, WLBT reports.
The two men were allegedly tortured and abused by Bailey’s deputies. Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that shields government officials, especially those in law enforcement, from civil lawsuits unless their actions violate a “clearly established law.”
Attorney Jason Dare, representing Sheriff Bailey, contends that Bailey should not be held accountable in this case, as the sheriff neither participated in the alleged abuse nor had prior knowledge of it. Dare argues that for Bailey to be implicated, he would need to have directly violated Jenkins’ and Parker’s constitutional rights, which must have been a clearly recognized violation at the time of the incident.
The lawsuit maintains that Bailey’s inadequate supervision or training of his deputies directly led to the January abuse incident involving Jenkins and Parker. The case draws attention to the fact that five former deputies have since admitted guilt in connection with the events.
Further bolstering their case, attorneys for Jenkins pointed out previous incidents involving the deputies in question. These incidents include Deputy Brett McAlpin’s 2010 assault on a man in Pearl, Deputy Hunter Elward’s role in the 2019 death of Pierre Woods, and another incident resulting in the death of Damien Cameron, again involving Elward.
Dare, in Bailey’s defense, argues that these three incidents, spread over a period of 14 years, do not establish a consistent pattern of unconstitutional behavior.
Earlier this year, a federal judge had already refused to grant Sheriff Bailey qualified immunity in the Woods case. Moreover, this decision was upheld by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals following an appeal by Bailey.
Jenkins’ attorney, Trent Walker, expressed his disagreement with Bailey’s position. He firmly believes that the sheriff’s lack of action directly contributed to the conduct of the deputies in question.See a typo? Report it here.