DA: 'Baby Shark' kid's song used to bully Okla. jail inmates
An investigation found that inmates were forced to stand the entire time, hands cuffed behind them and secured to the wall
By Nolan Clay
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Two former detention officers and their supervisor were charged Monday after an investigation found inmates at the Oklahoma County jail were forced to listen to the popular children's song, "Baby Shark," on a loop at loud volumes for extended periods of time.
At least four inmates were subjected to the "inhuman" discipline in an attorney visitation room of the jail last November and December, according to the charge. The inmates were forced to stand the entire time, hands cuffed behind them and secured to the wall, the investigation found.
Charged were Gregory Cornell Butler Jr., 21, of Edmond; Christian Charles Miles, 21, of Oklahoma City; and Christopher Raymond Hendershott, 50, of Wellston.
District Attorney David Prater charged them with misdemeanor counts of cruelty to a prisoner and conspiracy.
"It was unfortunate that I could not find a felony statute to fit this fact scenario," Prater said. "I would have preferred filing a felony on this behavior."
The DA said the Legislature definitely should look at making a change to the law.
Butler and Miles are accused of imposing the rogue discipline, and Hendershott, a lieutenant, is accused of knowing about it and doing nothing to stop it.
At the time, Sheriff P.D. Taylor was in charge of jail operations. A trust took over the jail July 1.
The sheriff said Monday that Butler and Miles were suspended from any contact with inmates "as soon as I knew about it." He said they resigned during the internal investigation. He said the lieutenant retired.
"We don't tolerate it," he said of the mistreatment. "We always did an excellent job policing ourselves."
Miles confirmed that he and Butler "systematically worked together and used the ... attorney booth as a means to discipline inmates and teach them a lesson because they felt that disciplinary action within the Detention Center was not working in correcting the behavior of the inmates," an investigator wrote in affidavits filed in the case.
"Butler also confirmed that he used the booth as a means of punishment," the investigator wrote. "The playing of the music was said to be a joke between Miles and Butler."
The music put "undue emotional stress on the inmates who were most likely already suffering from physical stressors," the investigator wrote.
Hendershott learned of the mistreatment on Nov. 23 but "took no immediate action to either aid the inmate victim or discipline the Officers," the investigator reported. "This appeared to have led to the Officers continuing to mistreat inmates."
The investigator used video surveillance recordings to identify the suspicious incidents. Some inmates were in the room as long as two hours.
"Additional incidents were brought to light following staff interviews but were unable to be substantiated with video evidence and victims to support the claims," the investigator wrote.
The defendants could not be reached for comment Monday.
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