Obama calls for review of death penalty after botched killing
May 2nd, 2014
01:31 PM ET
4 months ago

Obama calls for review of death penalty after botched killing

Washington (CNN) – Calling a botched state killing in Oklahoma "deeply troubling," President Barack Obama said Friday the federal government would review death penalty procedures around the country.

Obama said he's asked Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct an analysis of how death row criminals are killed after an execution attempt in Oklahoma left an accused murderer writhing and convulsing following a lethal injection.

"I think we do have to, as a society, ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues," Obama said during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while reaffirming his belief the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for certain crimes.

Related: Obama, Merkel disagree on spying issues

On Tuesday, Oklahoma officials said the planned execution of convicted murderer and rapist Clayton Lockett went awry several minutes after he was administered the first of three drugs in the lethal injection cocktail.

Witnesses report Lockett uttered the words "Man," "I'm not," and "something's wrong" before blinds separating media and the execution chamber were lowered.

A reporter said Lockett still appeared to be alive when the partition was lowered, making it impossible for witnesses to view the remainder of the procedure.

Lockett eventually died of a heart attack, officials said.

During his press conference Friday, which focused largely on the situation in Ukraine, Obama pointed to other "significant" flaws in the country's execution system.

"Racial bias. Uneven application of the death penalty. Situations in which there were individuals on death row who later on were discovered to have been innocent because of exculpatory evidence - all these I think do raise significant questions about how the death penalty is being applied," he said.


Filed under: Eric Holder • Oklahoma • President Obama
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Good. Because if that story about what happened in OK didn't strike you as horrifying evidence that we've gone astray and are risking losing something of our humanity, then you may have already lost yours.

    May 2, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    Abolish the death penalty and just stick with life without the possibility of parole. I wonder what the pro-lifers think about this issue. Are you pro-life only in terms of unborn fetuses?

    May 2, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. Chris-E...al

    I wonder if 0bama even knows TH0SE cROOks on death row cant vote dem ?

    May 2, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Reggie53

    What about the victim? Was the victim given a chance not to be killed? I have no sympathy for what happened to this prisoner because he showed no mercy to his victim. I am sure his victim suffered an even worse death than he did. He was sentenced to the death penalty and he got it. Obama should stay out of it....we do not need to hear what the left/democrats have to say about it.

    May 2, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. afvet

    Given what this criminal did to the victim, I'm only sorry he didn't suffer as long as she did.

    May 2, 2014 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. John

    Bring back the guillotine. It's quick and it works.

    May 2, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. Vijay

    Kudos to Obama on this.. This is what I was fighting for many days...

    May 2, 2014 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. Darrell

    Yes, Only Obama should have the power to execute criminals... and non-criminals for that matter.

    May 2, 2014 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  9. Gail D

    The criminal didn't have much care for the woman he buried alive

    May 2, 2014 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. rh

    The death penalty should be administered according to Federal law, via the FDA.

    But honestly, the guy cut himself and didn't eat, trying to foil the method of his death by becoming dehydrated and therefore not presenting plump veins. Yeah, it worked, but too well, he ended up suffering much more.

    May 2, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  11. Stevo2

    Any idea the cost of life in prison? EYE for an EYE baby.!!

    May 2, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  12. Deacon

    Is it ever not racial bias with Obama?? What about the victims??

    May 2, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  13. NealR2000

    The death penalty doesn't go far enough.
    1.It needs to be carried out within 24-hours of sentencing
    2. Panel of judge for any trial that carries a death penalty sentence. No juries.

    May 2, 2014 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  14. Webby

    Keep the death penalty. He made his victim suffer, I hope he felt the pain. Put a bullet between their eyes and they won't need any drugs and excuses. Quick and painless.

    May 2, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. much thunder...little rain

    bias... really....to the girl who was rape..shot and buried alive....not much humanity for the poor girl

    May 2, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  16. slp

    @Dutch/Bad Newz

    Unborn fetuses don't go around ruthlessly killing people quite often torturing them and causing them terrible suffering. I have conflicting feelings about the death penalty and haven't figured out my stance on it yet, but I really don't understand your comparison of killing ruthless killers to the practice of abortion. And for the record, I am a conservative but I do believe that abortion is a necessary evil at times. I would never take it upon myself to judge someone who had one if their life was in danger or if they were raped.

    May 2, 2014 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  17. Me

    I don't understand why it is so hard to find a chemical/compound that instantly stops the heart. I do believe in the death penalty but I do NOT agree with inhumane ways of carrying it out. We need to find a way to instantly kill the person convicted and sentenced to death, I am very surprised it is this hard to do that. And dutch, I am all for pro-choice for women (and men) before you jump on my comment. I would never make that call but it is not my place to tell someone else they can not!

    May 2, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Praisethelard

    A bullet to the back of the head is cheaper and faster.

    May 2, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  19. OnTheRoad

    Does his wanting to review the death penalty cover abortion also? Or is it still considered OK to murder babies that have not done anything to anyone?

    May 2, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  20. Hooplah

    Just put a bullet into their head then. I'm pretty sure the economics of a .25 cent bullet is much, much more cost effective than whatever the mixture of drugs costs. And it would have a much lower chance of something going wrong like this.

    Or just have them die by whatever method they used to kill someone else. Stabbed someone? Let them die by stabbing. Slit someone's throat? Let them die by that. Beat them to death? Strangled someone? Strangle them to death. What comes around goes around.

    We shouldn't be going out of our way to make them comfortable when they're on death row for a reason.

    May 2, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. Bob Lanier

    Says the man who wants taxpayers to pay for killing unborn children.

    May 2, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  22. Robert

    Time to join the rest of the civilized world and abolish the death penalty for a whole host of reasons, beyond satiating the lust for vengeance.

    If one innocent is put to death then it's just not worth the risk. But also killing people for killing people because killing people is wrong just doesn't make sense.

    "Let vengeance me mine sayeth the Lord, I will repay."

    May 2, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. Bob

    The murderer sentenced to death died... review complete. Cost $0.00

    May 2, 2014 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Reggie53

    DUTCH: Fetuses are innocent victims....cannot protect themselves but this man chose to kill another human being without any thought about it and we must feel sorry for him........well, get it...I do not. He deserved what he got. To even compare the two can only come from an ignorant/dumb democrat.

    May 2, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  25. GlenR

    I oppose the death penalty because life sitting in a 10X8 foot cell 24/7 is a worse punishment.

    May 2, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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