Lawyer Told Aide To Use Google After Backing Execution With Wrong Drug

Oklahoma is pausing executions after the release of a grand jury report indicating that a deputy attorney was told to look up a lethal injection drug online.

On Thursday, a grand jury released a 100-page report as part of a major inquiry into the state’s trouble with delivering capital punishment.

According to Reuters, Attorney General Scott Pruitt said in a statement, "Today, I regret to advise the citizens of Oklahoma that the Department of Corrections failed to do its job.” Understatement is the operative word here.

The months-long investigation led by the jury began after three botched execution attempts dating back to 2014.

The lawyer for Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is reported to have told a deputy attorney general to “Google” whether or not the use of potassium acetate could be used in the September 30 execution of Richard Glossip. Fallin’s general counsel, Steve Mullins, is responsible for advocating the use of potassium acetate in Glossip’s execution.

Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol calls for the use of potassium chloride, which is known to stop the heart from beating.

The grand jury report stated that Mullins claimed that potassium chloride and potassium acetate “were basically one in the same drug, advising the deputy attorney to 'Google it.’” Potassium acetate had been used in the earlier execution of Charles Warner.

It was argued that “it would look bad” if they decided not to use potassium acetate for Glossip’s execution since they had already used it on Warner.

At the last minute before Glossip’s scheduled execution, Fallin issued him a stay after the attorney admitted that she looked up online to see if potassium acetate was actually different to potassium chloride and found that it was. 

An attorney who has represented Oklahoma death row inmates, Dale Baich said, "More transparency is needed as well as accountability for a pattern of serious mistakes in the administration of the death penalty in the state.”

In Oklahoma, lethal injection is the primary method for capital punishment. It is one of two states, along with Utah, where death row inmates can choose to be executed by firing squad. Other execution options for the state are death by gas chamber or electrocution.  

Executions in the state are presently being paused due to these officials’ irresponsible conduct. However, the grand jury report has not led to any indictments of the officials who are allegedly responsible for bungling the execution directives. 

Carelessly relying on Google for checking to see if a certain drug can be administered for an execution should not be taken lightly by the Oklahoma jury. While it is commendable that the state has halted scheduled executions, justice needs to be served to those at fault. 

oklahoma execution

Banner Image Credit: Reuters

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