Report: Oklahoma Used Wrong Drug In Execution

| by Michael Allen
Lethal injection tableLethal injection table

An Oklahoma grand jury issued a report on May 19 stating  some state officials committed an "inexcusable failure" in the execution of Charles Warner on Jan. 15, 2015.

The grand jury said the pharmacist ordered the wrong execution drug, several state employees didn't notice or speak up and an official in Republican Gov. Mary Fallin's office told people perform the execution with the wrong drug, which violated state protocol, The Washington Post reports.

The protocol calls for the state to use midazolam (sedation), vecuronium bromide (paralysis) and potassium chloride (lethal, stops the heart). However, the state used potassium acetate as the lethal drug instead.

Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt said in a statement that the report found "a number of individuals responsible for carrying out the execution process were careless, cavalier and in some circumstances dismissive of established procedures that were intended to guard against the very mistakes that occurred."

In September 2015, Fallin canceled Richard Glossip's execution because state officials got the wrong lethal drug. Oklahoma officials admitted a few days later they obtained the incorrect drug to kill Warner.

Glossip is still on death row despite not having killed anyone. The Intercept reported in 2015 that

Glossip was found guilty of planning the murder of Barry Alan Van Treese by persuading Justin Sneed to beat Van Treese, The Intercept reported in 2015. Sneed testified that he killed Van Treese in exchange for a life sentence without parole. The case received much publicity for errors, possible intimidation of witnesses by authorities, prosecutors withholding evidence and contradictory testimony.

The grand jury stated in its report: "There is no evidence the manner of the execution caused Warner any needless , pain. Nevertheless, his execution was not administered in compliance with the Department's Protocol or in a manner allowing Warner to challenge the procedure prior to his death."

The report added that the state is supposed to give an inmate the list of drugs that will be used to execute the inmate ten days before the inmate's execution date, which gives the inmate a chance to "challenge the procedure prior to his death." In this case, the state never mentioned to Warner that potassium acetate would be used "as an alternative to potassium chloride."

The report described Steve Mullins, the governor's then-general counsel, as "flippantly and recklessly" ignoring the protocol. Mullins reportedly testified to the grand jury that he advised going ahead with Glossip's September 2015 execution because the pharmacist and "IV Team Leader" believed potassium chloride and potassium acetate were interchangeable. The report said Mullins planned to get some "clarification" after Glossip's execution, which Fallin called off.

Mullins resigned from his position before he testified to the grand jury earlier this year, reports The Washington Post. Mullins asserted at the time he was trying to help reduce costs by taking a voluntary buyout.

Sources: The Washington Post, Oklahoma State GovernmentThe Intercept / Photo Credit: Ken Piorkowski/Flickr

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