Autopsy Reveals Drugs Killed Oklahoma Inmate in Troubled Execution

Aug 28, 2014

Clayton Lockett was executed in April.
Credit AP

A report on a problematic execution in Oklahoma shows lethal drugs caused the inmate to die, not a heart attack, after the state's prisons chief halted efforts to kill him.

Prisons Director Robert Patton had said inmate Clayton Lockett died from a heart attack several minutes after he ordered the execution stopped. In a report released Thursday, the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety said all three execution drugs were found throughout Lockett's system. A medical examiner declared that the cause of death was "judicial execution by lethal injection."

Oklahoma put executions on hold after Lockett gasped and writhed against his restraints for several minutes after his April execution began. Lockett was poked several times as medical technicians tried to find a vein before settling on using one at his groin.

In June, twenty-one Oklahoma death row inmates filed a lawsuit against state officials, arguing the three-drug method used by the state violates the Constitution and amounts to human experimentation, risking "severe pain, needless suffering and a lingering death."