Oklahoma Inmate Forced To Listen to 'Baby Shark' on a Loop Found Dead

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.

 John Basco
This image shows John Basco, who was found dead in his jail cell on Monday. Basco, who had accused his jailers of "torture" by alleging they forced him to listen to the repetitive "Baby Shark" pop song playing on a loop. Oklahoma County Jail

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."

However, Basco's attorney, Cameron Spradling, said he found news of the death "disturbing" and has called for a thorough investigation.

"There is a criminal case and a federal civil rights case pending against three former detention officers including a longtime lieutenant," Spradling told Newsweek.

"One of the Baby Shark torture victims is conveniently dead within three days of his arrival. District Attorney David Prater lost his most important witness for the upcoming criminal trial. The D.A. needs to immediately send in his own investigators to find out why this victim/witness died under these mysterious circumstances."

He also tweeted a picture of his client, saying he mourned his death.

Opgrande, speaking on behalf of the jail, told Newsweek: "Our sympathies are with Mr. Basco's family and loved ones. The State Medical Examiner's Office will determine the cause of death and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations is assisting in the investigation, but we can confirm there were no obvious signs of foul play.

"Additionally, we would like to note Mr. Basco's lawsuit was against the previous jail administration, not against the Oklahoma Country Criminal Justice Authority or the current leadership. We remain committed to providing the safest environment possible for detainees and staff."

Basco's death marked the 14th inmate death at the jail this year, The Oklahoman reported.

Update 9/12/2022 12:05 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a comment from Spradling.

Update 9/13/2022 3:01 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a comment from Opgrande.