During Botched Execution, Inmate Tried to Help

Tulsa World investigates all that went wrong in Clayton Lockett's lethal injection
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2015 3:49 PM CDT
During Botched Execution, Inmate Tried to Help
This June 29, 2011 file photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, shows Clayton Lockett.   (AP Photo/Oklahoma Department of Corrections, File)

At the end of the night of April 29, 2014, convicted murderer Clayton Lockett lay dead on a gurney, which is the outcome the state of Oklahoma sought. But the botched execution was a "procedural disaster" from the get-go, according to an investigation in the Tulsa World, based on some 5,000 pages of records the paper sued the state for under the Open Records Act. What went down during those fateful 43 minutes in April:

  • The doctor and paramedic working to inject Lockett appeared inexperienced and rushed because they had a second execution that night; after numerous attempts at finding a vein failed, Lockett himself suggested the femoral vein in his right leg. The paramedic worried that she had no experience administering those and that "they cause a lot of clots." Replied Lockett: "Does it really matter?"

  • The paramedic testified she told the doctor the needles they had were too short. "We'll just have to make it work," she says he told her. She says at one point he confused a vein with an artery.
  • The drugs they administered were not labeled with either their contents or Lockett's name, which is procedure. Lockett had previously sued the state to disclose what drugs would be used; a stay was issued, then overturned.
  • The IV, which was deemed to be improperly monitored in the biggest fail of the night, "dislodged," as the doctor put it, sending the drugs into Lockett's tissue. Lockett reared "up off the table" after the World notes he should have been unconscious. The doctor scrambled to put in a second femoral IV.
  • Gov. Mary Fallin's office was listening by phone; after a prison employee told them the execution had been halted, a woman asked if Lockett was being treated. He died 30 seconds to two minutes later.
The World's full report, which includes many of the released documents, is worth a read. (More Clayton Lockett stories.)

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