An Oklahoma County inmate found dead in his jail cell over the weekend was a plaintiff in a lawsuit alleging that jail employees tortured him and other inmates by forcing them to repeatedly listen to the children’s song “Baby Shark.”
John Basco, 48, was found unresponsive in his cell early Sunday morning, according to Oklahoma County Detention Center officials. Workers at the jail attempted lifesaving measures but he was pronounced dead after their efforts. This is the 14th death at the jail this year, which has been criticized over inmate deaths, escapes, and other incidents.
According to jail spokesperson Mark Opgrande, there are no obvious signs of foul play, and investigators will investigate the possibility of a drug overdose. The cause of death will be determined by the State Medical Examiner’s Office.
As part of a lawsuit filed in federal court, Basco, who was booked in the jail Thursday on a drug trafficking complaint, claims to have been handcuffed to a wall during separate incidents in 2019 and forced to listen to the song “Baby Shark” for hours on end. In connection with the incidents, a jail lieutenant retired and two detention officers were fired, and all three are facing misdemeanor charges.
Cameron Spradling, Basco’s lawyer, told The Oklahoman that he found the circumstances surrounding Basco’s death “disturbing” and urged the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to preserve all evidence.
As Spradling said, “I’m really bothered by this. One of the ‘Baby Shark’ victims died within three days of arriving 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.”
Records from Oklahoma prisons indicate Basco had a long history of criminal convictions dating back to the mid 1990s, mainly for drug, property, and firearm crimes. Records show he served 10 years in prison for a second-degree murder conviction in 2000 and was released in 2007.
For more coverage on this story, check the following additional news sources:
- Oklahoma Inmate Forced To Listen to ‘Baby Shark’ on a Loop Found Dead Newsweek
- “Baby Shark” torture case: Plaintiff dies at Oklahoma County jail Oklahoman.com
- Inmate who sued over ‘Baby Shark’ torture found dead The Seattle Times
- Dead Oklahoma inmate was suing over ‘Baby Shark’ claim The Associated Press – en Español
- Plaintiff in ‘Baby Shark’ torture case dies Sunday at Oklahoma County jail Yahoo! Voices