After horrified witnesses to Oklahoma’s first execution in six years described gruesome scenes of the dying inmate convulsing and vomiting during the lethal injections, the state is coming under severe scrutiny.
John Grant, 60, was pronounced dead on Thursday at McAlester State Penitentiary after being injected with doses of midazolam, vecuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. The Department of Corrections said the execution went “in accordance with protocols and without complication.”
However, accounts from eyewitnesses presented a very different version of events. Dan Snyder, an anchor of a local Oklahoma TV station Fox 25, said the process went awry immediately after the first drug was injected into Grant.
“Almost immediately after the drug was administered, Grant began convulsing, so much so that his entire upper back repeatedly lifted off the gurney,” Snyder reported. “As the convulsions continued, Grant then began to vomit. Multiple times over the course of the next few minutes medical staff entered the death chamber to wipe away and remove vomit from the still-breathing Grant.”
Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, said Grant’s violent reaction was extremely rare. “I’ve never heard of or seen that. That is notable and unusual.”
The botched execution marks another in a long line of such mistakes in Oklahoma. The state had paused its judicial killings since 2015 after a string of botched procedures caused alarm and forced authorities to review their use of lethal injections.