On Thursday, the New Republic published a series of photos from a 2006 botched lethal injection in Florida, weeks after the details of a similarly problematic procedure in Oklahoma made national news. The 2006 lethal injection death of Angel Diaz was well-reported at the time, but magazine editor Ben Crair's discovery of the photos — submitted as evidence during an appeal of a separate court challenge to lethal injections — adds a new depth to the conversation of the reality of modern capital punishment.
Diaz likely died a painful death. "Angel Diaz winced, his body shuddered and he remained alive for 34 minutes," the Tampa Bay Times reported in 2006. Officials had to administer a second dosage of drugs to the inmate in order to kill him, and the needles that were supposed to be in his veins were actually administering the drug into the tissue around them, as the AP reported. The photos show the result of such a mistake on Diaz's body (warning: graphic image below):
That image shows a large chemical burn on Diaz's body, created by the drugs flowing into his tissue instead of into his veins like they were supposed to. Here's what the New Republic had to say about this image:
On the right arm, the burn zone was 12 by 5 inches, with numerous blisters (or "bullae," as they're known medically) and a sloughing off of superficial skin. On the left arm, the burn zone was 11 by 7 inches. The blisters, according to the autopsy report, were filled with “watery pink-tinged fluid.” By the time the autopsy began, the medical examiner noted there had been “extensive skin slippage,” revealing white and pink subcutaneous skin.
One professor of clinical surgery who spoke to TNR about these images said that he expected to see this sort of burn when "a kid has fallen in a campfire or set his arm on fire," and not during a state-administered lethal injection procedure.
The autopsy on Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett, whose botched execution temporarily halted capital punishment in the state, is not yet completed. But we do know the timeline of events leading up to his death. His execution was called off 40 minutes into the procedure, after which Lockett died apparently of a hearth attack. Oklahoma corrections officials had trouble finding a vein on the prisoner, and resorted to injecting the drugs through a vein in his groin area, the state said in its timeline.
Read the rest at the New Republic.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.