A grand jury investigating last year’s botched executions in Oklahoma released a damning report on Thursday documenting the failures that led officials to acquire and administer the wrong lethal drug.
According to the grand jury, a number of officials failed to recognize that the state had accidentally purchased potassium acetate instead of potassium chloride until it had already been used to end one man’s life. From NBC News:
The panel focused on the Jan. 2015 execution of Charles Warner and the aborted September 2015 execution of Richard Glossip.
Under the protocol, both men were supposed to be put to death with a three-drug cocktail that included potassium chloride.
In Warner’s case, the executioners mistakenly used potassium acetate — a mixup that was not discovered until someone noticed the wrong drugs had also been ordered for Glossip.
Among the probe’s more disturbing findings was that Governor Mary Fallin’s top lawyer, Steve Mullins, pushed for the execution of Richard Glossip to go ahead as planned even after it was discovered the incorrect drug had been purchased.
“[T]he Governor’s General Counsel stated potassium chloride and potassium acetate were basically one in the same drug, advising Deputy Attorney General Miller to “Google it,” wrote the grand jury. “The Governor’s General Counsel also told Deputy Attorney General Miller that filing a motion to stay would look bad for the State of Oklahoma because potassium acetate had already been used in Warner’s execution.”
In other cases, officials claimed incompetence, with the pharmacist blaming his “pharmacy brain” and Warner’s execution leader saying he was distracted because he is “not very good at math.”
In the end, however, the grand jury declined to indict anyone over the botched executions and recommended the state increase training, update protocols and investigate the gas chamber as an alternative to lethal injection.
“With new management at the Department of Corrections, led by Interim Director Joe Allbaugh, I am confident we can move forward with a process that complies with the applicable policies, protocols and legal requirements,” Governer Fallin told the Associated Press.