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Lawsuit Calls Oklahoma Inmate's Execution 'Torture'

The suit, filed on behalf of Clayton Lockett, a rapist and murderer who took 43 minutes to die, seeks damages for pain and suffering.

A lawsuit has been filed over the botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate who appeared to writhe in agony as he was put to death, with attorneys calling the execution a “barbaric spectacle” and “a violation of elementary concepts of human decency.”

The suit, filed Monday by the estate of Clayton Lockett against Oklahoma’s governor, director of the state’s department of corrections, and unnamed executioners and drug compounders, seeks damages for Lockett’s death, which took 43 minutes and inspired a nationwide debate about how states carry out executions. It also asks a court to declare that Lockett’s Constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment were violated.

“In a spectacle rarely seen in the ‘civilized’ world, Clayton Lockett writhed in agony, convulsed, gasped for breath, moaned repeatedly and took approximately 43 minutes to die at the hands of the Defendants,” the lawsuit states, and claiming that Lockett was “slowly tortured to death.”

Lockett was executed on April 29. He was convicted of raping and murdering a 19-year-old in 1999. One of two drugs he was injected with, Midazolam, has been used in two other troubled executions this year: Joseph Wood, who gasped and took two hours to die in Arizona, Dennis McGuire, who also appeared to gasp and took 25 minutes to die.


— Phil Helsel