2 Oklahoma Inmates Choose Death By Firing Squad Over Lethal Injection Because It's Quicker

An attorney for two Oklahoma death row inmates involved in a federal lawsuit claiming lethal injections are unconstitutional, offered a judge an alternative method for federal execution on Monday.

Attorney Jim Stronski suggested to Judge Stephen Friot that Donald Grant and Gilbert Postelle be allowed death by firing squad because it wouldn't have as many problems as lethal injections.

"While it may be gruesome to look at, we all agree it will be quicker," Stronski said.

Dr. James Williams, an emergency medicine specialist, testified that a firing squad using four rifles shooting into the "cardiac bundle" of an inmate's heart would be fast and painless.

Williams also said death by firing squad has an extremely low chance of being botched or having complications compared to lethal injection.

Grant and Postelle are set to be executed by lethal injection on January 27 and February 17, respectively, but asked Friot for a temporary injunction to postpone their upcoming executions until after the trial is over to determine if Oklahoma's three-drug lethal injection is constitutional.

Froit did not make a decision on the motion on Monday but said he hopes to have a decision by the end of this week.

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

Oklahoma Death Row Inmates
Two Oklahoma death row inmates facing executions in the coming months offered firing squad as a less problematic alternative to the state's three-drug lethal injection, one of their attorneys told a federal judge on January 10, 2022. Above, the gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester on October 9, 2014. Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo

Oklahoma has never used firing squad as a method of executing prisoners since statehood, but current state law does allow for its use if other methods, like lethal injection, were determined to be unconstitutional or otherwise unavailable. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections does not currently have execution protocols in place for any method other than lethal injection.

Friot also heard testimony from Justin Farris, chief of operations at the Department of Corrections, about the recent lethal injections of death row inmates John Marion Grant and Bigler Stouffer late last year.

Farris, who was inside the death chamber for both executions, described the two lethal injections as being on "opposite ends of the spectrum."

Grant, who was declared dead after vomiting and convulsing on the gurney, was angry, hurling expletives and resisting the execution by trying to flex his arms and legs, Farris said. Stouffer, on the other hand, "was just as polite as you can imagine under the circumstances," Farris said.

Farris also testified that the doctor who inserts the intravenous lines and helps oversee the lethal injections is paid $15,000 for each execution he attends, as well as $1,000 for every day of training. DOC policy prohibits the release of the names of execution team members, and the doctor wore a mask during Grant's and Stouffer's executions.

The lethal injection trial is set to begin before Friot on February 28.

Williams has more than 40,000 hours of emergency room experience and who has extensively studied the use of firing squads. He is also the victim of a gunshot wound to the chest area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.