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Guards Who Subjected Inmates to 'Baby Shark' Sentenced

Oklahoma pair can't work in law enforcement again
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2021 4:37 PM CDT
Updated Apr 4, 2023 7:15 PM CDT
Lawsuit: Jail Abuse Included Hours of 'Baby Shark'
Stock photo   (Getty/ViewApart)
UPDATE Apr 4, 2023 7:15 PM CDT

Two former guards whose mistreatment of Oklahoma County jail inmates included forcing them to listen to "Baby Shark" on a loop while handcuffed and chained to a wall have been sentenced. A judge ordered two years' probation for Gregory Cornell Butler Jr. and Christian Charles Miles and fined them $200, USA Today reports. They must complete 40 hours of community service and pay $300 in victim compensation. In addition, they're prohibited from working in law enforcement again. Both had pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor cruelty charge. An investigators' report said the two admitted playing the children's song over and over while disciplining inmates. "That was a joke between Miles and I," Butler was quoted as saying.

Nov 5, 2021 4:37 PM CDT

Former detainees in Oklahoma City have accused jail officers of "torture tactics" that subjected the inmates to physical and verbal abuse—including being forced to stand for hours while "Baby Shark" was blasted at them. The federal civil rights suit names Oklahoma County Sheriff Tommie Johnson III, county commissioners, the jail trust, and two former officers, the Guardian reports. After an investigation last year into the allegations, officers Christian Charles Miles and Gregory Cornell Butler Jr. resigned, and their supervisor, Lt. Christopher Raymond, retired, per the Washington Post.

"Baby Shark" is among the pieces of music that have been used "to torment," the suit says. It gave the example of West Palm Beach, Florida, officials playing the song over and over to keep homeless people out of an events site. After his staff investigated, the Oklahoma County district attorney pronounced the use of the children's song in the jail "cruel and inhumane." It placed "undue emotional stress on the detainees who were most likely already suffering," David Prater said, according to the lawsuit.

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One of the plaintiffs described being taken to an empty room in the Oklahoma County Detention Center jail, handcuffed behind his back, and secured to a wall. He was forced to stand for 90 minutes while officers next door blasted "Baby Shark" into the room. Two others endured similar treatment, with one saying it lasted three to four hours. The shift commander did not intervene, the suit says. "The volume of the song was so loud that it was reverberating down the hallways," according to the filing. The fourth detainee said he didn't have to listen to the song but was assaulted by the officers. One of them, the suit said, told the detainee he would make his life "hell." (More jail stories.)

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