An Oklahoma County jail and its sheriff were recently hit with a lawsuit alleging officers tortured inmates with the ‘Baby Shark’ song.
Inmates at an Oklahoma county jail recently filed a lawsuit against the Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson III, the board of county commissioners, the jail trust, and two former jail officers over claims they were “subjected to cruel and inhumane punishment when they were forced into stress positions while listening to ‘Baby Shark’ on repeat for hours.” The suit was filed in the Western District of Oklahoma on Tuesday. The plaintiffs are Ja’Lee Foreman Jr., Daniel Hedrick, Joseph Mitchell, and John Basco.
In addition to the abovementioned allegations, the civil suit accuses the defendants of using excessive force and describes the “discipline tactics as torture events.” Additionally, the complaint argues the defendants “failed to adequately train and supervise its officers…and the jail officers involved had a history of mistreatment well known to supervisors, but no actions were taken to stop them.”
Plaintiff Mitchell said that on November 19, 2019, he was “pulled from his cell by jail officers at about 11:45 p.m.” He was then placed in a room and ordered into a “standing stress position for three to four hours while handcuffed behind his back.” To make matters worse, officers began to play the children’s song, ‘Baby Shark,’ on loop, according to the complaint. The suit further states:
“Mitchell was forced to listen to the song over and over while physically restrained in the attorney visitation room. The volume of the song was so loud that it was reverberating down the hallways.”
Hedrick and Basco underwent similar treatment during 2019 where they were also forced to listen to the song while standing in stress positions. While Foreman was not forced to listen to the song, “he was placed in a stress position and later was kneed in the back and slammed into a wall by one officer and spat on by another.” The suit further notes that none of the plaintiffs posed a threat to the officers before they were isolated and forced into the stress positions.
It is important to note that when prosecutors learned the inhumane treatment existed at the jail in late 2020, an investigation was launched, and “two former jail employees and their supervisor were charged with misdemeanor cruelty charges” in October 2020. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said:
“It was unfortunate that I could not find a felony statute to fit this scenario…I would have preferred filing a felony on this behavior.”
Then-Sheriff P.D. Taylor also chimed in at the time and said “the jail officers who were charged resigned and their supervisor retired.”
Prater also said the ‘Baby Shark’ song “being used against the inmates was cruel and inhumane and it put undue emotional stress on the inmates who were most likely already suffering.”