Former Oklahoma City Prison officers are accused of torturing at least four former inmates with methods ranging from physical attacks to repeatedly listening to loud music, according to a federal lawsuit.
In a civil rights lawsuit, reported by The Washington Post, which was filed in federal court this week, four people formerly incarcerated in Oklahoma City jail said they were being subjected to “torture tactics” that included verbal and physical assault as well as standing. for hours on end while being forced to listen to the Baby Shark children’s song.
The lawsuit was brought against Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson III, county commissioners, the prison trust and two former officers.
Baby Shark and popular music in general have a long history of use as a “tormenting device,” the Oklahoma lawsuit said. In 2019, Florida officials played Baby Shark on a loop to keep homeless people from sleeping or setting up camp in parks. In Guantánamo Bay, interrogators notably detonated heavy metal music at loud volumes to torture detainees.
In Oklahoma, Daniel Hedrick, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, was taken from his cell and into an attorney’s visitation room, where two police officers played the song on repeat, forcing Hendricks to stand for more than one o’clock.
Joseph Mitchell, another plaintiff in the lawsuit, was escorted to an empty room on November 30, 2019, where he was handcuffed behind his back, tied to the wall, and also forced to listen to Baby Shark while standing for three to four. time.
Another plaintiff, John Basco, suffered similar conditions: isolated, restrained and forced to listen to the song for almost two hours.
“The volume of the song was so loud it reverberated through the hallways,” the lawsuit noted.
Ja’Lee Foreman Jr, the fourth plaintiff and former inmate, was not forced to listen to the children’s song but was verbally and physically assaulted by prison officers, who vowed to make the life of Foreman a “hell”.
The trial noted that the men “posed no threat to officers or anyone else”, were “compliant” and “did not actively resist a lawful order.”
After an investigation into the incidents last year by the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Office, the two former prison employees along with their supervisor were charged with prisoner cruelty and conspiracy, the lawsuit said.
In an interview with The Associated Press, former Oklahoma County Sheriff PD Taylor said officers Christian Charles Miles and Gregory Cornell Butler Jr, the officials who allegedly initiated the torture, and Lt. Christopher Raymond Hendershott, who the lawsuit said knew “but took no action.” to intervene and stop the misconduct, ”retired.
Miles and Butler have a history of inmate abuse and have both been the subject of multiple complaints, Oklahoma County Prosecutor David Prater confirmed after an investigation.
Prater called the use of Baby Shark in the prison “cruel and inhumane,” saying it put “undue emotional stress on inmates who were probably already in pain,” according to the lawsuit.