Oklahoma Inmate Had Drugs Injected Through Groin During Botched Execution

By McCarton Ackerman 05/05/14

New details have emerged following the horrific lethal injection of death row inmate Clayton Lockett last week.

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The botched lethal injection death of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett is generating plenty of debate not only for how he died, but also for the manner in which the drugs were administered by the state.

Due to a shortage of drugs used for executions in the U.S., the convicted murderer was given a cocktail of drugs that had never been used before in Oklahoma. Doctors pumped the drugs through a vein in his groin after failing to find a suitable entry in his arms, legs, feet, and neck. Although Lockett was supposed to be rendered unconscious immediately after being injected with midazolam, the first of the three-drug cocktail, after 13 minutes he sat up and said “something’s wrong.” He began to thrash around and convulse violently before dying of a reported heart attack 43 minutes after the first injection.

It was also reported that Lockett was tasered by prison officials after refusing to leave his cell for routine medical exams prior to the execution. Friends and family of Stephanie Newman, whom Lockett raped and murdered in 1999, said they had no sympathy for his pain. President Barack Obama has also said he supports the death penalty for particularly heinous crimes such as Lockett’s. But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the case was a failure in the constitutional obligation to execute people humanely. The Eighth Amendment forbids the federal government from inflicting cruel or unusual punishments.

“I want them to admit they did wrong and after that, let’s change this,” said Lockett’s stepmother, Ladonna Hollins. “If we are going to put people to death, let’s do it the right way.”

In response, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin called for an independent review of the state’s execution protocol. A separate lethal injection planned that same day was also called off and given a 14-day delay. But anti-death penalty advocates are using the case as a platform to call for the full removal of lethal injections.

“Our state government has acted in sin and violated God's law. We will pray for their souls,” said Adam Leathers, co-chair of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “[They] tortured a human being in an unconstitutional experimental act of evil.” Warner’s attorney, Madeline Cohen, also declared that “Oklahoma cannot carry out further executions until there’s transparency in this process.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.