Oklahoma Sued Over Botched Execution Described As ‘Torture’

The American Civil Liberties Union and two newspapers have filed a federal lawsuit against the State of Oklahoma over the botched execution in April of condemned inmate Clayton Lockett, KFOR (Oklahoma City) is reporting.

On April 29, Lockett was put to death using an untested cocktail of drugs, because the drugs normally used for lethal injections in Oklahoma were not available. Over the course of the next hour, Lockett writhed in pain, regained consciousness, and at one point even spoke, before dying painfully of a heart attack. Witnesses described the event as “torture” (see this Inquisitr article). At one point during the execution, prison officials closed the curtains that allowed viewers to observe the execution.

Lee Rowland, staff attorney for the ACLU, told KFOR, “The State of Oklahoma violated the First Amendment, which guarantees the right of the press to witness executions so the public can be informed about the government’s actions and hold it accountable.”

The lawsuit demands that observers – including the media – be allowed to witness everything that takes place in the execution chamber during an execution, from the moment the condemned enters the chamber until they leave it, according to UPI.

After Lockett’s botched execution, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton revealed that the technician tasked with inserting the needle that would deliver the drugs into Lockett’s thigh was unable to do it properly, causing the lethal cocktail of drugs to spill into surrounding tissue, instead of going directly into Lockett’s bloodstream.

The case was one of a series of botched executions that took place throughout the U.S. this spring, including a similar one in Arizona, that brought the issue of lethal injections, and the death penalty in general, into public debate. States have resorted to using untested drugs in carrying out lethal injections in recent months, in part because manufacturers are refusing to make the regular lethal injection drugs, according to UPI.

According to the Tulsa World, on June 3, 1999, Lockett and two accomplices attempted to invade and rob a home in the Oklahoma town of Perry. At some point during the robbery, the men encountered 19-year-old Stephanie Nieman and her new pick-up truck. Nieman refused to give up the keys to the truck, so the men beat her and abducted her. She was eventually shot at close range with a shotgun, and buried while she was still breathing, according to court documents.

Do you believe that Clayton Lockett deserved to be tortured to death over the course of an hour for his crime? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Image courtesy of: Washington Post