9 Investigates: Plaintiffs File Lawsuit Following Lockett Execution
OKLAHOMA CITY - More unsettling details emerged in the state's flawed execution of Clayton Lockett. Graphic descriptions and frank assessments of what went on could be found in court documents filed by attorneys trying to force the state to change its protocol. Those filings did not paint a pretty picture.
The attorneys represent 21 Oklahoma death row inmates. Their lawsuit highlights, not just the procedural missteps of April 29, but some shocking admissions made afterward, things not included in the state's official report.
The documents detailed how the decision was made, just a month before the execution, to use Midazolam, the drug that was supposed to render Lockett unconscious, but had never been used in Oklahoma before and only on a limited basis in other states.
Michael Oakley, counsel for corrections at the time, told investigators there was political pressure from the state Attorney General's office to "get it done, hurry up about it."
And according to the filing, Warden Anita Trammel, who was supposed to decide which drugs to use, said she simply signed off on what Oakley and the AG decided. "I signed the damn thing. I did not write that policy," she said.
And as for the fact the Midazolam works differently than drugs Department of Corrections had used before, Trammel said, "The executioners didn't know anything about it. No one did."
The documents described the multiple attempts to put an IV into Lockett, including a final, hurried attempt when it seemed clear Lockett was not unconscious, Trammel described the scene as "a bloody mess."
The paramedic who participated in the execution described the entire process this way: "[I]t was such a cluster."
The plaintiffs requested that all executions be put on hold until the state comes up with a different protocol, one with a track record of success that isn't likely to violate the 8th Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
A three-day hearing on this begins Wednesday in US District Court.
The next execution is currently scheduled for Jan. 15.