OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The children’s song, “Baby Shark,” is at the center of new abuse allegations against two Oklahoma County jailers and their supervisor.
On Monday, former detention officers Christian Miles and Gregory Butler, and their supervisor, Christopher Hendershott, were charged with four counts of cruelty to prisoners, four counts of corporal punishment to an inmate, and four counts of conspiracy.
According to court documents, the incidents happened in November and December of 2019.
Miles and Butler allegedly pulled at least five inmates, one at a time, out of their cells late at night, then handcuffed them with their arms behind their backs in a standing position in an attorney booth.
In some cases, the inmates were made to listen to “Baby Shark” for 1.5 to 2 hours at a time.
Oklahoma City attorney Casey Davis compared the allegations to Guantanamo Bay torture tactics.
“Nothing short of draconian,” he said. “That is done with one purpose and that is to harass, to annoy, to torture, to inflict emotional anguish.”
Court documents state Miles and Butler used the booth 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.”
The documents also state Miles told investigators that “the inmates often ‘pissed off’ Butler which evidence suggests led to those inmates being taken to of their cells/pods and mistreated.”
“At night when there weren’t as many folks around, those officers got their opportunity to get their revenge, and that revenge is criminal,” Davis said.
Hendershott allegedly learned about the mistreatment but did not thing to help the inmates or discipline the officers. He allegedly ignored 20 hand written inmate complaints as well. His alleged in action allegedly resulted in “the Officers continuing to mistreat inmates where at least an additional six (6) inmates were physically victimized.”
A spokesperson for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, which still had control of the jail at the time, sent News 4 a statement saying,
“The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office learned about allegations of detention officers being cruel to inmates on December 6, 2019. When the allegations were made an internal investigation was launched, and the detention officers were immediately removed from having contact with inmates per order of Sheriff PD Taylor. During the preliminary stages of the investigation all three detention officers under investigation either quit or resigned from their positions by the end of December2019.
The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office took immediate action to investigate this incident while the jail was under our operational control, and completely support the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s decision to file charges on these former jail employees. Public trust is earned and criminal behavior cannot be tolerated by those who are sworn to protect inmates who are in their custody.
The probe into this misconduct was investigated by the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust) which took over operations of the jail on July 1, 2020. Jail Trust investigators presented charges to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s Office on October 2, 2020. Requests for information regarding details surrounding their investigation will need to be made to either the Jail Trust, or the District Attorney’s Office.”
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