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BY Francis Akhalbey, 9:30am April 13, 2023,

Former jail officers accused of torturing inmates while playing ‘Baby Shark’ sentenced

The two former jail officers allegedly punished inmates while playing the "Baby Shark" children's song -- Photo Credit: Nickelodeon

Two former Oklahoma jail officers accused of torturing inmates while they played the “Baby Shark” children’s song were sentenced to two years probation last week. According to WMBF, the punishment handed out to Christian Charles Miles and Gregory Cornell Butler Jr. comes after inmates filed an excessive force lawsuit against them in 2021.

Court documents stated that the two individuals were sentenced to probation after they pleaded no contest to misdemeanor cruelty to a prisoner. Prosecutors, however, dismissed a conspiracy charge that was brought against them. 

John Basco – a Black inmate and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit – passed away last September after his unresponsive body was found in his cell. Basco and three other inmates filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing jail staffers of using excessive force and discipline methods against them, NBC News reported.

The suit referred to the methods as “torture events,” and also alleged that on different occasions in late 2019, jail staffers forced Basco and another inmate to take stress position stands while they played the “Baby Shark” children’s song. In November 2019, another inmate was also similarly forced to take a stress position stand while he was in handcuffs, the lawsuit said, adding that the inmate was in that position for three to four hours.

The jail staffers then went ahead to repeatedly play “Baby Shark,” the lawsuit stated. The song was said to be so loud “that it was reverberating down the hallways.” The complaint also alleged that a jail staffer spat on another inmate after he was initially forced to take the same stand, while another officer also allegedly kneed the inmate’s back and hit him against a wall. 

The lawsuit stated that the inmates did not pose any threat to the jail staffers. Oklahoma County District Attorney, David Prater, stated in the lawsuit that the playing of “Baby Shark” as a disciplinary practice was “cruel and inhumane” as the “inmates who were most likely already suffering” also had to endure “undue emotional stress.” Miles and Butler ultimately resigned in the wake of the lawsuit.

Christopher Raymond Hendershott, a former lieutenant also named in the lawsuit, was accused of doing nothing to intervene, WMBF reported, and has since retired. Though he faced four cruelty counts and one conspiracy count, those charges were dismissed.

Besides being sentenced to probation, Miles and Butler were ordered to complete 40 hours of community service. They also received a $200 fine and were ordered to pay $300 as compensation to the victims. They have also been barred from working in law enforcement.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: April 13, 2023


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