After seven years, the state of Oklahoma believed it was time to resume executions.

John Grant was announced dead at 4:21 p.m. Thursday after chemical injections. The DOC’s statement was that Grant’s execution was “carried out in accordance with Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ protocols and without complication.”

Associated Press reporter Sean Murphy was a witness to the execution. What he described doesn’t jibe with that statement.

“The first drug, he began convulsing about two dozen times, full-body convulsions, then began to vomit, which covered his face and began to run down his neck and the side of his face,” Murphy said as he read from his notebook. Murphy said staff went to check on Grant and wiped the vomit off his face, checking that he was still breathing, “… at that point he was still breathing and had some involuntary convulsions and vomited more.”

A seven-year hold on executions because Oklahoma had been unable to find a humane way to kill a person without botching it.

“I’ve never seen an inmate vomit,” Murphy told reporters. “I’ve witnessed about 14 executions and I’ve never witnessed that before.”

This editorial board has previously endorsed ending the death penalty in Oklahoma, some years ago and at the time the arguments were about time and money wasted. Oklahoma, affirmed via state question by voters in 2016, has a constitutional requirement to put people to death who have been sentenced to death.

“A sentence of death shall not be reduced on the basis that a method of execution is invalid,” the law reads.

But the law also reads, “Any method of execution shall be allowed, unless prohibited by the United States Constitution.”

What of the Eighth Amendment?

“Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

“… he began convulsing about two dozen times, full-body convulsions, then began to vomit.”

Cruel.

“I’ve witnessed about 14 executions and I’ve never witnessed that before.”

Unusual.

Victims need justice, but our failures in delivering it have never been more evident. We need to abolish the death penalty in this state.

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