An inmate who had accused his jailers of “torture” by alleging they forced him to listen to the repetitive Baby Shark song playing on a loop has been found dead.
John Basco was found unresponsive in his cell in the early hours of Sunday at the Oklahoma County Detention Center, according to a press release.
Officers tried to save the 48-year-old’s life and worked on him until emergency responders arrived and continued efforts to resuscitate him, jail officials said in the statement, but he was pronounced dead shortly after 4:05 a.m.
Basco, who had been booked into the jail on Thursday over a drug trafficking complaint, made headlines around the world in 2021 after he and three other inmates sued Oklahoma County commissioners, Sheriff Tommie Johnson III, the jail trust and two former jailers following a previous stint at the facility back in 2019.
They accused former detention officers Gregory Cornell Butler Jr. and Christian Charles Miles of forcing them to listen to Baby Shark blaring out on repeat, occasionally for hours, while they stood handcuffed to the wall of a visitation room.
Former Lieutenant Christopher Raymond Hendershott was also accused of knowing about the practice and doing nothing to stop it at the jail in Oklahoma City.
A 2020 investigation reportedly confirmed the inmates had been disciplined in this way, and the two detention officers were fired and charged with misdemeanor counts of cruelty to a prisoner and conspiracy.
Hendershott had already retired.
Lawyers representing the detainees have described the incidents as “torture events” and the case is ongoing.
It is not yet clear how Basco died and the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will investigate to determine the cause of death.
Mark Opgrande, director of communications for the jail, told The Oklahoman newspaper: “One of the possibilities being investigated is that it was a drug overdose.”