“Baby Shark,” the viral kids song, certainly is annoying. It is so annoying in fact that it was allegedly used to torture detainees in the Oklahoma County Detention Center. However, one of the inmates that brought these allegations to light, John Basco, was found unresponsive in his jail cell earlier this week.
In 2016, the song “Baby Shark” went viral on the Internet as its accompanying music video was uploaded to YouTube by Pinkfong, a South Korean entertainment company. The song is incredibly popular amongst kids—so much so that the music video became the most popular video on YouTube, having racked up over 11 billion views as of September 2022. But parents everywhere know the truth that this song is annoying as hell, and in 2021, the Washington Post reported that several people incarcerated in an Oklahoma City jail alleged that the song was used to torture other inmates. One of the men leading the subsequent lawsuit, John Basco, was found unresponsive in his cell earlier this week, three days after being booked into the detention center.
“At approximately 3:52 Sunday morning, a detention officer performing site checks discovered detainee John Basco unresponsive in his cell,” the jail’s press release reads. “The detention officer called for medical and other officers to respond, and they immediately began life saving efforts. Emergency responders arrived and continued resuscitation efforts. Basco was pronounced deceased at approximately 4:06 a.m.”
Investigators are looking into what caused Basco’s death and this most recent stint behind bars is separate from the time he was serving while allegedly being forced to listen to “Baby Shark.” “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,” said Mark Opgrande in a press release emailed to Gizmodo. Opgrande is the Director of Communications for the Oklahoma County Detention Center.
In their reporting, the Washington Post describes the circumstances laid out in a federal lawsuit regarding the accusations. The lawsuit was filed by Basco, Joseph Mitchell, and Daniel Hedrick, who were all awaiting trial at the time of the alleged torture. The suit says that inmates were handcuffed and secured to a wall, forced to stand for hours as the song blasted at a high volume. “The volume of the song was so loud that it was reverberating down the hallways,” the lawsuit says, as quoted by the Post.
“Additionally, we would like to note Mr. Basco’s lawsuit was against the previous jail administration, not against the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority or the current leadership,” Opgrande stated further. “We remain committed to providing the safest environment possible for detainees and staff.”
At least four inmates were subject to the Baby Shark torture under the former jail administration, and in October 2020 detention officers Gregory Cornell Butler Jr. and Christian Charles Miles and their supervisor Christopher Raymond were charged with misdemeanor counts of cruelty to a prisoner and conspiracy, according to the Oklahoman.