Charlie Buttrey

January 12, 2022

Utah, Idaho, South Carolina and Oklahoma all permit execution by firing squad. Oklahoma has never executed anyone by firing squad, but the Sooner State may soon get its chance.

Two death-row inmates have petitioned the U.S. District Court for an order directing Oklahoma to execute them by firing squad rather than lethal injection, which Oklahoma only recently reinstated after a five-year moratorium following some gruesomely botched executions. The most recent one also didn’t go particularly smoothly; according to a witness to the October 28, 2021 execution of John Grant, almost immediately after the initial drug was administered, Grant began convulsing, so much so that his entire upper back repeatedly lifted off the gurney. Grant then began to vomit. Over the course of the next few minutes, medical staff had to enter the death chamber to wipe away and remove vomit from the still-breathing Grant. It was 15 minutes before Grant was declared unconscious by medical staff, after which he was injected with vecuronium bromide, which paralyzes the body, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Donald Grant is scheduled to be executed on January 27th, and Gilbert Postelle on February 17th. Their lawyers maintains that death by lethal injection puts them at risk of “substantial and serious harm,” and that they wish to be put to death by firing squad instead.

I’m pretty sure that having four or five people firing a large-caliber projectile from a military rifle straight through your heart just might cause “substantial and serious harm.” But the point is well taken. On the other hand, maybe we could just do away with executions entirely?

Fun bonus fact (which I didn’t know until researching this blog): Wenceslao Moguel Herrera was a soldier under Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution. He was captured and sentenced to be executed by a firing squad. He was shot 8-9 times, and then someone delivered the coup de grâce (a final head shot at point-blank range). Herrera somehow survived, and lived another 61 years.


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