(TMU) – Three former employees at a jail in Oklahoma are facing charges of cruel treatment of prisoners after they forced inmates to listen for hours to “Baby Shark,” the infamous children song beloved by toddlers and loathed by parents.
According to inmates, Oklahoma County Jail detention officers Christian Miles and Gregory Butler, both 21, along with former supervisor Christopher Hendershott, 50, conspired to cruelly treat the prisoners when shackling them and securing them to the wall while subjecting them to the song on repeat, resulting in “undue emotional stress on the inmates who were most likely already suffering” from being restrained against the wall.
The three former jailers face misdemeanor counts of cruelty to prisoners, corporal punishment to an inmate, and conspiracy, according to Oklahoma County District Court records.
On at least five separate occasions this past November and December involving five separate inmates, Miles and Butler placed the inmate in an empty attorney visitation room before shackling them to the wall, forcing them to stand for up to two hours at a time, while blaring “Baby Shark” on repeat from tinny computer speakers.
The two jail employees saw this as a joke, and Hendershott failed to take any disciplinary measures or halt the cruel treatment when he heard complaints from inmates.
The case is eerily reminiscent to the treatment of terror suspects during the so-called “Global War on Terror” during the George W. Bush era, when CIA agents and interrogators at Camp X-Ray detention camp on Guantanamo Bay Naval Base would play music on repeat for hours as a means of psychologically torturing prisoners, according to the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report.
Video surveillance footage from the Oklahoma County Jail also depicted the officers carrying out the sadistic acts.
Oklahoma District Attorney David Prater said that the three employees acted “conjointly, willfully and wrongfully” in a “cruel or inhuman manner” to inflict further stress and psychological pain on the inamtes.
Prater later told The Oklahoman that he “would have preferred filing a felony on this behavior,” but the facts wouldn’t fit the charge.
“It was unfortunate that I could not find a felony statute to fit this fact scenario,” he added.
“Baby Shark” is an infamous campfire sing-along which became a viral hit after South Korean company Pinkfong produced a music video of the sticky, repetitive song. The song, which begins with the lyric “Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo,” also became the unofficial theme song for the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball, who won the 2019 World Series but failed to qualify for the expanded post-season this year.
However, the dreaded earworm of a song has also become associated with more nefarious uses.
Last year, officials in West Palm Beach, Florida, earned worldwide notoriety after they weaponized the song as an anti-homeless measure to prevent the unhoused from sleeping on city property alongside other songs like the the auto-tuned abomination Raining Tacos.
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