Report Describes Botched Execution in Oklahoma

     OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – Oklahoma’s execution team created a gruesome “bloody mess” trying to tap a second femoral intravenous line during the botched execution of Clayton Lockett, court records reveal.
     The horrifying details of how the April 29 execution went wrong after the blinds to the death chamber were drawn were revealed Friday.
     Assistant Federal Public Defender Patti Ghezzi in Oklahoma City filed an 83-page Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on behalf of four death row inmates scheduled to be executed by Oklahoma in the next three months.
     The men seek a preliminary injunction to stop their executions, which they call cruel and unusual.
     Plaintiff Charles Warner was scheduled to die hours after Lockett, but was spared when Gov. Mary Fallin stayed his execution and ordered an investigation of Lockett’s death. Warner now is scheduled to die on Jan. 15.
     An unidentified paramedic said a doctor tried to start the line in Lockett’s groin but the doctor “did not know why he was trying to start another line” and that “no one ever asked him why he was starting the other line,” according to the Findings.
     “He hit the artery and blood started backing up into the IV line,” the paramedic told state investigators. “And I told him. I said [redacted] you’ve hit the artery. Well, it’ll be alright. We’ll go ahead and get the drugs. No. We can’t do that. It doesn’t work that way and then I wasn’t telling him that. I mean I wasn’t trying to countermand his authority but he was a little anxious. I don’t think he realized that he hit the artery and I remember saying you’ve got the artery. We’ve got blood everywhere.”
     Warden Anita Trammell told investigators there “was no plan” for the execution team running out of execution drugs. She said “blood squirted up and got all over” the doctor’s jacket when he tried to insert a line into Lockett’s left groin and that he said he had to “get enough money out of this to go buy a new jacket.”
     The Findings say “no post-stay life-saving measures were taken” after the execution was called off by Fallin, and that the team allegedly was told “not to reverse it.”
     The doctor “stated he would have to take Lockett to the emergency room, but someone told [the doctor] that they would not do that,” according to the Findings. The doctor “said he could have started ‘CPR and advance cardiac life support'” and that “there are drugs to reverse midazolam.”
     The paramedic echoed the doctor’s statements, that he thought lifesaving measures were not used “because the purpose of being there was to provide an execution … and we were told not to reverse it.”
     Warden Trammell told investigators that after the blinds were lowered, an unidentified person was checking the electrocardiogram, whom Trammell asked if he or she was “gonna call it.”
     The person declined, so Trammell asked the doctor, who “got pretty frustrated” with her, according to the Findings.
     Lockett was convicted in 2000 of the rape and murder of Stephanie Neiman, 19. He was convicted of shooting her with a sawed-off shotgun and watching two accomplices bury her alive.
     Warner was convicted in 1999 of the rape and murder of Adrianna Waller, the 11-month-old daughter of his girlfriend at the time.
     Both men unsuccessfully sued the state in March, opposing the state’s planned use of replacement execution drugs of unknown content from unlicensed compounding pharmacies .
     Several states have resorted to such measures due to shortages of traditional execution drugs caused by anti-death penalty activists successfully asking large drug manufacturers to stop making them.
     During his execution, Lockett was declared unconscious after the injection of midazolam in the state’s new three-drug combination. Three minutes later, Lockett began breathing heavily, writhing, clenched his teeth and strained to lift his head off of a pillow in apparent agony. Blinds separating a viewing gallery were then lowered and Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton halted the execution 20 minutes later. Lockett died from a heart attack soon after.
     Fallin’s investigation concluded in September that the execution failed because the first intravenous line in his groin was placed improperly and then covered with a sheet.
     Trammell ordered Lockett’s groin and the line insertion area covered to “maintain Lockett’s dignity and keep his genital area covered,” the report stated. It noted that members of the execution team had felt rushed, as Warner’s execution was scheduled later in the evening.
     Lockett’s attorney, David Autry, witnessed the execution and said it was “totally botched.”
     “It was a horrible thing to witness,” Autry said at the time. “They should have anticipated possible problems with an untried execution protocol. Obviously, the whole thing was gummed up and botched from beginning to end. Halting the execution obviously did Lockett no good.”
     Autry was skeptical of prison officials’ claims that one of Lockett’s veins had blown.
     “I’m not a medical professional, but Mr. Lockett was not someone who had compromised veins,” Autry said. “He was in very good shape. He had large arms and very prominent veins.”
     An independent preliminary autopsy conducted by forensic pathologist Dr. Joseph Cohen in June supported Autry’s observations. His report noted the “excellent integrity and peripheral and deep veins” for the purpose of an IV insertion. Cohen was unable to find “any significant underlying natural disease” nor a “cardiac condition” that played a role in his death by heart attack.
     Lockett’s family has since sued Oklahoma officials and the compounding pharmacies that provided the execution drugs, claiming in Federal Court that Lockett was used “as a lab rat” in “a failed medical experiment” that was “a barbaric spectacle.”
     Several media members also sued state officials in Federal Court, claiming the drawing of the blinds deprived them and the public of the right to observe Lockett’s final moments.

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