Saturday, 13 December 2014

Should the Executioner be Held Responsible?

Clayton Darrell Lockett
Picture courtesy of Daily News.

On April 29th 2014, the State of Oklahoma executed Clayton Lockett, a man convicted of killing a 19-year old woman and raping another in 1999. However, the execution didn't quite go as planned and Lockett took 43 minutes to die. An official enquiry by Oklahoma State Prison blamed a failed IV line and a lack of training. Officials promised to review their execution protocols and have not executed another prisoner since. 

However, Clayton Lockett's family have refused to let the matter lie and in October a Federal lawsuit was failed on the family's behalf. In this lawsuit, a McAlster emergency room physician was named as the "executioner". Although a Governor, the DOC director and Oklahoma State Prison's warden have all been named as defendants in the filing, it is Dr.Johnny Zellmer who has been referred to as the one who carried out the botched execution. 

Under normal circumstances the name of the physicians present are kept a secret. While I feel it is right that Clayton Lockett's family are given answers, no matter what he did he was still their son/brother/grandson etc. Is it really right that the physician involved has been named? After all, he has only carried out his duties as ordered by the State of Oklahoma. Does he have to be a Death Row physician? NO. But for as long as there is a death penalty in use, someone needs to do it and better it be a professional doctor than someone in med school or worse, someone with no knowledge of medicine etc. 

What do you think? Does Dr Johnny Zellmer deserve to be sued by Lockett's family? Or should it really be the Oklahoma State Penal system taking the heat?

Locket took 43 minutes to die following his "botched" execution.

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