Clayton Lockett Execution Draws Scrutiny on Protocol


When death row inmate Clayton Lockett was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday night, those at the Oklahoma correctional facility where the execution was taking place had no idea what scrutiny their protocol in ending the life of a man would draw. The follow through of the execution was considered a botched operation and had even gotten a response from the White House who called the procedure inhumane.

According to reports, on April 29 the state of Oklahoma was scheduled to put to death by lethal injection Clayton Lockett, who was convicted and sentenced to more than 2,285 years in prison for a rape and first-degree murder in 1999. The execution by the state of Oklahoma was introducing a brand new cocktail of three potent drugs each to be to administer in various stages to Lockett intravenously.

Being used for the first time by the state of Oklahoma was a sedative called midazolam. Officials administered a dose of 100 milligrams far under what other states have used in their executions. The state of Florida uses as much as 500 milligrams in their executions. Clayton Lockett was pronounced unconscious 10 minutes after being administered the dose, and it wasn’t noticed that things were about to take a drastic turn, until officials tried to administer the second drug paralytic and third phase in the series of  injections, potassium chloride.

Witnesses during the procedure say Lockett apparently regained consciousness three minutes after doctors pronounced him unconscious. According to those present at the execution, Lockett began squirming, clenching his teeth and fighting for his life on the gurney, alarming prison officials that the drugs were not taking effect. The procedure was immediately stopped as Lockett struggled further on the table. The curtain of the viewing gallery where witnesses get to observe Lockett being put to death had to be drawn, to shield the general public from the gruesome sight in the death chamber.  It took Clayton Lockett approximately 43 minutes to eventually die. While prison doctors declared that Lockett died of an apparent massive heart attack, Clayton Lockett’s body has been flown to Dallas where a full toxicology report will be conducted. Dallas officials say a full and complete toxicology profile on Lockett could take as long as three months.

A thorough investigation is now underway as officials are looking for answers into the effectiveness and the source of the drugs used on Lockett as well as the manner in which they were administered. The Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, announced that she will put a hold on all pending execution while the Oklahoma state department of public safety conducts a full investigation into the methods used in the state’s execution practices and lethal injection guidelines. The probe could stall future executions in the state of Oklahoma for an extended period of months.

As state officials look into their protocol and procedures in handling executions, scrutiny has also been drawn from the White House where President Barack Obama has asked the Attorney General to review death penalty applications.  In a statement, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the procedures exercised in Oklahoma fell short of fundamental humane standards.

By Hal Banfield

NY Daily News
The Daily Astorian

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