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Botched Oklahoma Execution Attributed To Executioner Error

Ashley Yang |
June 13, 2014 | 5:31 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Lockett's execution went awry as a result of the state's (CACorrections, Wikimedia Commons)
Lockett's execution went awry as a result of the state's (CACorrections, Wikimedia Commons)
A preliminary autopsy has found that the execution of Clayton Lockett went awry because Oklahoma prison officials failed to properly place the IVs that delivered the life-ending drugs into Lockett’s veins. As a result, the lethal injection lasted a total of 43 minutes, with the prisoner writhing and twitching behind a lowered curtain before finally dying of a heart attack (as reported by state officials). 

This tragic mishap follows a long line of execution errors made by the state in its goal to carry out a humane, painless death. 

The autopsy found that although Lockett’s veins were in excellent condition, Oklahoma’s executioners were unable to access the veins in his arm, through which lethal injection drugs are traditionally administered. Instead, they attempted to place IVs into his femoral arteries. The report also indicated evidence of vascular damage, meaning that the executioners actually damaged Lockett’s veins during the procedure. This likely caused the drugs to leak into surrounding tissues rather than passing directly into the bloodstream, prolonging Lockett’s death.

The bungled execution re-sparked national outrage with not only the constitutionality of the death penalty, but also a series of lawsuits challenging lethal injection methods based on the origins of the drugs and the amount and quality of training received by executioners. 

Reach Executive Producer Ashley Yang here. Follow her here



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