One of the inmates who had filed a suit against jail authorities alleging that they had been tortured using the “Baby shark” song in 2019, has died at the Oklahoma County Jail.
In November, a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a group of pre-trial detainees who were at the Oklahoma County Detention Centre in 2019, alleged that the song was used as a “torture” tactic against inmates.
Court papers said that one inmate Joseph Mitchell was removed from his cell at 11.45pm on 30 November 2019 by officers, who placed him in a room in a “standing stress position” for four hours.
Officers are accused of playing the popular children’s song on a loop, the lawsuit claimed.
“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,” the papers stated.
The suit also alleged use of excessive force and named Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson III, the board of county commissioners, the jail trust and two former jail officers.
On Sunday morning John Basco, 48, one of the plaintiffs in the case, was found unresponsive in his cell, Oklahoma County Detention Centre officials said in a news release.
The jail added that he was pronounced dead after workers began lifesaving efforts.
“One of the possibilities being investigated is that it was a drug overdose,” Mark Opgrande, director of communications for the jail, was quoted as saying to The Oklahoman.
Basco’s death is the 14th this year at the jail, which has faced criticism over inmate deaths, escapes and other incidents.
The facility has also come under the scanner for overcrowding, poor living conditions, staffing troubles and frequent deaths.
Prior to Basco’s death, another inmate, 52-year-old Danny Paulin, died of suicide on 19 August.
On 31 July, 50-year-old Robert Richards was also found unresponsive in his cell.
Basco’s attorney said that he finds his death “concerning” and has called for all evidence to be preserved as the investigation continues.
“I’m really bothered by this,” Mr Cameron Spradling said.
“One of the ‘Baby Shark’ victims is conveniently dead within three days of his arrival at the jail. How does that happen? District Attorney David Prater just lost one of his witnesses for the upcoming criminal trial. For me, this one does not pass the smell test,” he said.