OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — A plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Oklahoma County Jail died inside the jail on Sunday.

John Basco and several other inmates sued over alleged torture at the jail involving the children’s song “Baby Shark.”

Basco was arrested Thursday and died Sunday. Now his family and his attorney are demanding answers.

“Imagine this, you call the jail and find out that your only brother, who’s only 48 years old, in good health — you can see from the booking photos is clear-eyed, in good health, clear-eyed — is mysteriously dead,” said Cameron Spradling, John Basco’s attorney.

According to jail officials, Basco was arrested on drug trafficking charges as well as carrying or possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

“I wasn’t aware that John was even at the Oklahoma County Jail until the late afternoon of the 9th, Friday, the 9th,” Spradling said. 

Spradling says Basco’s sisters called him Sunday to deliver the news.

“One was talking to me, and the other one was crying, wailing in the background, truthfully, that John was dead,” said Spradling. 

Last year, Basco and other former inmates filed a lawsuit claiming that in 2019, they were pulled out of their cells in the middle of the night, handcuffed and forced to listen to the song “Baby Shark” — in some cases for hours at a time.

“It’s a known torture device that’s used by CIA,” Spradling said. “In other words, to play it on a loop for hours on end, and they just did it for sport.”

Two former detention officers and their supervisor were charged. Before the end of the year, all three had either quit or resigned.

Spradling wants to know what happened to Basco.

“He’s calm, he’s clear-eyed, he knows what’s up,” Spradling said. “He’s not going to make any trouble. He was a quiet man. He was an intelligent man. That’s John Basco. And John Basco was the best witness the district attorney had on the ‘Baby Shark’ torture case, and now he’s gone.”

The Oklahoma County Jail sent KFOR the following statement:

“Our sympathies are with Mr. Basco’s family and loved ones. 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. 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. We remain committed to providing the safest environment possible for detainees and staff.”

Oklahoma County Detention Center Director of Communications Mark Opgrande

District Attorney David Prater says he’s waiting for more information before commenting on Basco’s death.

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