Two Oklahoma death row inmates request firing squad execution over lethal injection

Oklahoma ended a moratorium on legal executions in 2021
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A jail cell
A jail cell
(Charles O'Rear/Getty)

Two death row inmates in Oklahoma have requested execution via firing squad instead of the state's usual practice of lethal injection.

Donald Grant and Gilbert Postelle, who are each scheduled to be executed in the coming weeks, have asked U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot to grant a temporary injunction delaying their upcoming deaths until a trial can be held to address the constitutionality of the state's three-drug, lethal-injection method. 

Following a Monday hearing in Oklahoma City, Friot did not issue a decision.

"There's a lot for me to get my mind around," he said. 

Among those who testified Monday was Dr. James Williams, an emergency medicine specialist from Texas, who was himself the victim of a gunshot to the chest. He said that a firing squad that included shots from at least four high-powered rifles to the "cardiac bundle" of the heart would result in a death so fast that inmates would feel no pain.

He added that, unlike lethal injection, the odds of a botched firing squad execution are extremely, extremely low. 

At present, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections has no execution protocols in place beyond lethal injection. Since becoming a state, Oklahoma has never used a firing squad as a method of legal execution, though it is permitted if other methods are deemed unconstitutional.

Last year, the state ended a six-year execution moratorium that had been instituted due to concerns over its protocols. The first inmate to receive a lethal injection after the lift was 60-year-old John Marion Grant, who reportedly screamed, convulsed, and vomited before dying about 20 minutes after his injection.