Clayton Lockett’s execution took 43 minutes to complete and prompted President Barack Obama to call for a Federal review into the death penalty.
According to the state’s notes describing the day of his execution, Clayton had that morning refused to go voluntarily to his death, and in response to this “an electric shock device (Taser) was administered”.
Before the execution began, a spokesperson for the state’s Department of Corrections warned that the first drug in the cocktail, midazolam, was expected to work more slowly than the sodium thiopental or pentobarbital the state had used in past executions. After declining to offer any final words, Clayton lay covered in a white sheet while the sedative, midazolam, was administered. Ten minutes after it was injected, Clayton was declared unconscious.
Three minutes later, however, Clayton began to struggle and tried to speak, audibly saying “man”. After he began writhing and moaning on the gurney, the blinds in the execution chamber were lowered so spectators couldn’t see what was happening. Despite officials calling a halt to the execution so that Clayton could be revived and executed another day, he died of a heart attack 43 minutes after his execution had been started.
A state review of Clayton’s execution procedure later ruled that the principal problem with the execution was the botched insertion of the IV line into his groin, which caused a swelling “the size of a golf ball”. Responding to criticism of the execution, Oklahoma’s Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael Thompson said that, “at the end of the day … the drugs did what they were designed to do.”
Following Clayton Lockett’s execution, President Barack Obama announced a federal review of death penalty protocols, commenting that Americans should “ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues”.
The state of Oklahoma has now completed its full review into Clayton Lockett’s execution, and has spent $100,000 renovating its execution chamber. While the Department of Corrections has said that it would like to restart executions at the earliest possible opportunity, Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt subsequently sought to delay the state’s three remaining executions scheduled for 2014 (Charles Warner on 13 Nov, Richard Glossip on 30 Nov, and John Grant on 4 Dec), filing a notice claiming that the state “does not have the necessary drugs or commitments from medical personnel to carry out the execution”. The filing looks to set all three executions back until 2015.