Obama calls for review of death penalty after botched killing
May 2nd, 2014
01:31 PM ET
9 years 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.

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"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. gager

    Obama needs to stay out of it. He is not doing his job.

    May 2, 2014 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  2. Keith

    I don't believe in the death penalty at all, but if you read about what he did to his victim I really don't have any compassion for him suffering a bit.

    May 2, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Denise

    Dittohead logic......so what if someone innocent is killed, it comes with the territory. Death penalty is the law whether you agree or disagree with it. There needs to be more consistency and fairness in how it's applied. Most often, the poor and minorities are the ones who are put to death.

    May 2, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. Pat Henry

    Barrack Obama and libs again side with criminals.

    May 2, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "You do not know that he suffered, he might very well have been unconcious and not felt a thing"

    He lifted his head from the table while he was convulsing and told them "something is wrong" and a few other things. Now, run along and go get yourself a new excuse for this cruel and unusual punishment that violated the Constitution.

    May 2, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Government Waste Rules

    Oh that poor, poor murderer and rapist! To go through such a thing, oh that poor poor murderer! No wonder Obama is so concerned!

    May 2, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "He is not doing his job."

    His JOB is to defend and enforce the Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment in the 8th Amendment. Find yourself a different excuse.

    May 2, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "Barrack Obama and libs again side with criminals."

    Barrack Obama and libs again side with the Constitution and the 8th Amendment.


    May 2, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  9. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    And there you have it Denise. Who knows if he even really did it? Their favorite excuse is always he raped her. They've used that same excuse for hundreds of years on guys that look like him. Google entire towns burned in OK. And guess what their excuse was? He raped a ( ) female. It works every time....

    May 2, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. t lockner

    He should have lived another hr so he could have suffered alittle longer

    May 2, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. Wes


    Killing is wrong, no matter who does it....but our conservative christians sure seem to love killing people, I guess their bible says killing is AOK.
    Are you for, or against abortion?

    May 2, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. Junior36

    BeverlyNC: Stand face to face with the parents of the raped, tortured dead (only child) target of this swine and let them know who the real criminal is. I think they will disagree with your twisted assessment.

    May 2, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  13. Oakspar77777

    For what they pay to do lethal injections, I will gladly execute prisons for any state. Sword (like Saudi Arabia), axe, guillotine, hanging, or bullet to the head – I'm pretty sure my cost will be pretty much $0, making the rest pure profit.

    I have enough faith in our justice system that I feel I could do it and still sleep at night. No botched work and done inside of a few minutes.

    As a nation we kill hundreds of thousands of hog and cows every year – it isn't like we don't know how to kill. The problem is resolve and restrictive means.

    May 2, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Anybody who feels sorry for this piece of trash needs to have their head examined. What he did to his victims was a 100 times worse. Im glad to hear Obama believes in the death penalty
    smith I read what this thing did.
    Karma came immediately to mind......
    The fact still remains that death by lethal injection is not supposed to work like that.... but evidently there's another type of justice in this world at work that we have no control over.

    May 2, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  15. grumpyoldman

    I hope it hurt and I hope he felt every second of it.

    May 2, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Bessy

    I have to agree with the folks writing on here stating that he deserved what he got. He did indeed. It doesn't bother me that he " may " have suffered a bit. Too bad! What about his poor victim ? BTW, not all democrats are against the death penalty. My only problem with it is that it usually takes too long to enforce. They go through how many appeals before it can even be put in place ? Too many and too long. Oh, I also do not believe in railroading innocent people. I believe that anyone that can be convicted of doing this should be put in prison for life.

    May 2, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. Me


    Governor Mary Fallon of Oklahoma who defied the OK Supreme Court ban on the execution until the drugs to be used were tested – should be thrown out of office and prosecuted for breaking the law. She should also be tried for murder for this was not an execution, it was a horrible, sickening murder based on incompetent prison officials and a twisted Governor.
    No More Republicans. Common sense NOT hate should be the guidelines of leadership for a Governor.
    Fallon is the criminal.
    WOW, it is very disgusting you are so distraught over the execution of a brutal murderer but not his victim. Why are you not distraught over the beating, rape, shooting, and burying alive of his 19 year old victim named Stephanie! You Beverly are a sick person!

    May 2, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. Ken

    Denise – So, what's your point? Are you suggesting a quota, that only certain amount of poor or minorities are put to death? I don't care if you are rich, median or poor. White, black, green, purple, orange or yellow with green dots if you commit the crime you pay the price. You want to be serious about the death penalty, go back to public executions. Do you think someone could possibly think again before committing a crime if they had witnessed an execution before?

    May 2, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  19. bobo

    Stay out Obama! You ruin things!

    May 2, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "He is not doing his job."
    He is doing the job he was elected to do.
    What specific job are you referring to?

    May 2, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    What is with the fool anyway. He has done nothing but screw everything up but yet he is always putting his two cents in on every issue that comes along and it isn't very good. I wish he would learn to keep is stupid mouth shut and stop the damage until his term is up.

    May 2, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  22. davecu

    Back off Barry!
    Let the states do their job.

    You have a country to run. Please focus on that, finally.

    May 2, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  23. David Hollenshead

    The problem with our death penalty is that we attempt to sanitize killing by the state.
    Perhaps we should hand the Governor a colt 45 and tell him or her, to carry out the verdict.
    Obviously this would result in the suspension of the death penalty in most states that have it.
    But why should this responsibility fall into the hands of the department of corrections employees?

    May 2, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  24. angus

    Is death cruel? To the family..yes..is it unusual? Nope....this guy deserved worse than he got..and the one they delayed executing is even worse..HE raped and murdered an 11 month old girl!! WHEN are all of the morons who plead for the criminal going to wake up??? WHY are you not pleading for the VICTIM? HUH?? idiots.....

    May 2, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  25. Use the French fail safe guillotine.

    Obama is confused again. What death penalty? Each state has its own. There is no national death penalty standard.

    Use the French head remover. It takes less than a split second. Guaranteed to take care of violent murderers quick.

    The guillotine has always been lauded as a professional extremely fast way to take care of your neighborhood murderers without the messy problems of other execution methods.

    Easy head removal with large nylon baskets for easy cleaning afterwards. This is a cinch no brainer.

    May 2, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
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