Oklahoma carried out its first lethal injection execution in more than six years. Despite a long and troubling history of botched lethal injections, and having previously rejected the method altogether, the state resumed lethal injection executions and executed John Grant using drugs of unknown origin.
According to witnesses, shortly after the first drug was administered, “[Mr. Grant] began convulsing about two-dozen times, full-body convulsions, and began to vomit, which covered his face and began to run down his neck and the side of his face.”
Doctors called the drug dosage used to kill Grant “insane,” while others described the execution as “torture” and “human experimentation.” Prison officials, however, denied any wrongdoing and announced they would continue executing prisoners, stating that “[Mr.] Grant’s execution was carried out in accordance with Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ protocols and without complication.”
Mr. Grant’s execution followed the pattern of past botched lethal injection executions in Oklahoma. In 2014, prison officials punctured Clayton Lockett in his groin, chest, neck, both arms, and one of his feet in an effort to find a vein to administer the drugs. Mr. Lockett was writhing, groaning, and attempting to speak before dying 51 minutes after the execution began. In 2015, Oklahoma officials used a drug unauthorized by the state’s protocol to execute Charles Warner, who exclaimed after the drugs were injected, “It feels like acid,” and, “My body is on fire.” Prison officials then attempted to use the same wrong drug to kill Richard Glossip, before the execution was called off at the last minute. Following this string of troubling executions, a moratorium was implemented to review Oklahoma’s lethal injection practices. Nonetheless, Oklahoma officials announced in February 2020 that the state would resume lethal injections.
A trial to determine whether Oklahoma’s lethal injection execution protocol is constitutional is scheduled to commence in February 2022.