ACLU of Oklahoma Says Governor’s Proposed Investigation is Not Independent
UPDATE 7:38 p.m. - Shortly after the execution of Clay Lockett, the American Civil Union of Oklahoma called for a moratorium on all executions in Oklahoma pending a complete and independent investigation into the botched execution and the events leading up to the fundamental breakdown in the state’s execution process.
The ACLU of Oklahoma issued a statement in response to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin call for an investigation to be conducted by a state agency under her control.
The Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma Ryan Kiesel said, “It is impossible for the Department of Public Safety, the Attorney General’s office, or anyone who is under the control of any agency or politician who played a role in this matter to offer a truly independent assessment. It is absurd to think that the same group of people that unnecessarily rushed last night’s execution and fought openness at every turn, can now be expected to hold themselves accountable in an investigation. This began as a question of whether we trust the government to kill its citizens, even guilty ones, in a secret process. Now we add to that the question of whether we trust the government to investigate itself and hold itself accountable when something goes horribly wrong during its secret execution process.”
Legal Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma Brady Henderson agreed with Kiesel stating, “The Governor’s proposal creates a serious conflict of interest. Over the past few weeks, the Attorney General and Governor fought every attempt at transparency or accountability in our execution process, vigorously promoting a secret, and very flawed, lethal injection system that predictably produced the state-funded torture of a human being. As a result, the fight to ensure transparency, accountability, and compliance with the United States Constitution will continue in the courts. In the mean time, if we want an investigation worthy of any confidence or credibility, it cannot be conducted by the very people who caused this disgrace in the first place.”
Governor Calls for Independent Investigation
UPDATE 6:03 p.m. – Pursuant to the Governor’s executive order, we have arranged for the transport of the remains of Clayton Lockett to the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office for a complete post mortem examination. NewsChannel 4 is waiting on confirmation that this is part of the independent autopsy review called by Governor Mary Fallin.
Gov. Mary Fallin has ordered an independent review of Oklahoma’s lethal injection procedures after Clayton Lockett’s botched execution Tuesday night.
Gov. Fallin said the review will show:
1. The cause of Clayton Lockett’s death found by an independent pathologist’s autopsy.
2. If the correct protocols and procedures were followed in Lockett’s execution.
3. How to help Oklahoma improve protocols and procedures in Oklahoma executions.
“He had his day in court,” Gov. Fallin said. “I believe the legal process worked. I believe the death penalty is an appropriate response and punishment.”
“However, I also believe the state needs to be certain of its protocols and procedures for executions and that they work,” Gov. Fallin said. “For that reason, I have asked for a review of the Department of Corrections’ execution protocols.”
Gov. Fallin said she and Dept. of Corrections Director Robert Patton agree the independent review would be “effective and appropriate.”
“I expect the review process to be deliberate, to be thorough, and it will be the first step in evaluating our state’s execution protocols,” Gov. Fallin said.
Gov. Fallin has not given a deadline for the independent review.
Tuesday night the governor issued a stay of execution for Charles Warner who was to be put to death just two hours after Lockett.
His new execution date is May 13.
If the independent review is not completed by that date, an additional stay of execution will be issued until the review is complete.
“Charles Warner also had his day in court,” Gov. Fallin said. “He committed a horrible crime; physical abuse, rape and murder of an 11-month-old baby. His fellow Oklahomans have sentenced him to death and we expect that sentence to be carried out as required by law.”
The governor took no questions from the media during the conference.
State Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be involved in execution review
A.G Pruitt’s office is going to be involved the in independent review of Lockett’s botched execution.
“Transparency and impartiality in the fact-finding surrounding this execution will give Oklahomans confidence and lend credibility to the state’s most solemn of duties: carrying out the sentence of death,” Pruitt said.
A.G. Pruitt said he will be taking the following actions:
· Assigning investigators from the Attorney General’s Office to work with DPS Commissioner Michael Thompson as he gathers information on the execution of Lockett
· Designating a special advisor(s) to assess the results of the review of Lockett’s execution and Department of Corrections’ procedures and then to recommend, if necessary, any changes surrounding such issues
· Instructing my staff to work with lawmakers on any relevant legislative proposals emanating from the review
· Ensuring victims’ concerns in the process are addressed
The Botched Execution
Department Of Corrections Director Robert Patton stopped the execution after Lockett began convulsing several minutes into the procedure, which began at 6:23 p.m.
He received the state’s new three-drug lethal cocktail but Patton said the execution was halted after it was clearly not having the desired effect.
Patton said Lockett suffered a “blown vein” and died of a massive heart attack 43 minutes after the first injection.
ODOC Spokesperson Jerry Massie said it normally takes an inmate six to 12 minutes to die from lethal injection.
UPDATE 1 p.m. – CNN is reporting White House press secretary Jay Carney said “there is a standard that the death penalty, when it is justified, must be carried out humanely, and in this case it fell short of that standard.”
Warner was supposed to be put to death just two hours after Lockett but his execution was pushed back 14 days after the first execution gone wrong.
“I have asked the Department of Corrections to conduct a full review of Oklahoma’s execution procedures to determine what happened and why during this evening’s execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett,” Gov. Fallin said. “I have issued an executive order delaying the execution of Charles Frederick Warner for 14 days to allow for that review to be completed.”
Warner’s execution is scheduled for May 13.