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Problems With IV Line Affected Botched Oklahoma Execution: Report

A review of an Oklahoma execution that was halted midway through says an improperly monitored IV line likely caused problems in administering three lethal drugs.
Image: Clayton Lockett
Clayton LockettOklahoma Department of Corrections via AP file

An improperly monitored IV line was likely the cause of a botched execution in Oklahoma, a new report says. The report released Thursday by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety said that a paramedic and physician inserted the intravenous line in Clayton Lockett’s groin after failing to find suitable veins in his arms, legs, neck and feet. The report says the IV location was covered with a sheet and not properly monitored until the physician noticed swelling bigger than a golf ball.

"Is there some things that need to be improved? Absolutely,” Oklahoma Department of Public Safety Commissioner Michael C. Thompson said Thursday after his agency announced the findings of its investigation. “We think that the IV was a big issue with the execution.”

Lockett’s botched execution in April prompted Oklahoma’s governor, Mary Fallin, to issue a six-month moratorium on all executions until the review was finished. In a statement Thursday, Fallin said she continues to “believe the death penalty is an appropriate and just punishment for those guilty of the most heinous crimes, as Mr. Lockett certainly was. The state’s responsibility is to ensure a sentence of death is carried out in an effective manner. Commissioner Thompson’s report and his recommendations for improved DOC protocols will help ensure this high standard is met.”

The review recommends more training for prison staff and medical professionals involved in executions. In a statement Thursday, Megan McCracken, a lawyer with the Death Penalty Clinic at U.C. Berkeley School of Law, said the failures documented in the report demonstrate the Department of Correction’s “culture of carelessness and inattention to detail and their rush to get the execution done.”


— Daniel Arkin, with The Associated Press