Two former detention officers—Gregory Cornell Butler Jr. and Christian Charles Miles, both 21—as well as their supervisor, Christopher Raymond Hendershott, 50, were charged with misdemeanor counts of cruelty to a prisoner and conspiracy.
According to investigators, using the song to torture prisoners was “said to be a joke between Miles and Butler,” and they worked together to “teach [incarcerated people] a lesson because they felt that disciplinary action within the Detention Center was not working in correcting the behavior of the inmates,” the Oklahoman reported on Monday. From November to December 2019, at least four incarcerated people were subjected to the abuse, forced to stand in an attorney visitation room with their hands cuffed behind them and chained to a wall. Investigators called the treatment “inhuman.”
“It was unfortunate that I could not find a felony statute to fit this fact scenario,” District Attorney David Prater told the Oklahoman. “I would have preferred filing a felony on this behavior.”
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that they learned about “allegations of detention officers being cruel to inmates” in early December, and following the launch of an internal investigation, the officers were “immediately removed from having contact with inmates” per the sheriff’s orders. “All three detention officers under investigation either quit or resigned from their positions by the end of December 2019.”
The supervisor learned of the mistreatment on November 23, 2019, but “took no immediate action to either aid the inmate victim or discipline the Officers,” according to the investigator’s report. “This appeared to have led to the Officers continuing to mistreat inmates.”
The wildly popular 2016 song “Baby Shark” was manufactured by Pinkfong, a Korean educational entertainment brand for children, to be as catchy as possible. The official YouTube video has gotten nearly 7 billion views since 2016.
Just because a song is cute and catchy doesn’t mean sonic torture isn’t serious. It’s a tactic that’s been used by Nazis in Holocaust camps and in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib to inflict psychological damage on people.
This isn’t the first time “Baby Shark” has been deployed by a state agency to torture people into submission, either: Last year, West Palm Beach, Florida blasted the song in public places to try to make homeless people stop sleeping in pavilions.