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DOC director who led botched execution of Black man to retire

by Deon Osborne, Associate Editor
DOC director who led botched execution of Black man to retire
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After overseeing the return of Oklahoma’s lethal injection executions, including the execution of a Black man that he denied was botched, Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Scott Crow is walking away.

In an announcement on Monday, Crow called his resignation “one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever encountered,” though he didn’t cite a reason for his departure.

It comes after he oversaw the return to executions in Oklahoma following a nearly seven-year pause on the morbid practice. Appointed by Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt in 2019 after working 25 years within the agency, Crow joined the governor and then-Attorney General Mike Hunter in 2020 with an announcement that the state had secured a source for lethal injection drugs. 

DOC Director Scott Crow oversaw botched execution of John Grant, then lied about it

Notably, Crow was inside the chamber during the botched execution of John Marion Grant in October 2021. Reporters witnessed Grant convulse at least two dozen times and vomit before he died, leading the Associated Press and other news outlets to label the execution “botched.”

 

Meanwhile, DOC Director Crow announced that no changes would be made in the execution protocol, though a standard “quality review” process would take place. When asked by reporters about the vomiting, Crow instead called it “regurgitation” and said a consultation with the on-site physician assured him it was not uncommon for detainees to do so during lethal injection. 

When asked whether Grant’s execution was humane, Crow said “inmate Grant’s regurgitation was not pleasant to watch but I do not believe it was inhumane.” Crow also denied that he convulsed two dozen times, saying he believes it was less than 10.

AP journalist Sean Murphy has covered 14 executions. He said he’s never seen a detainee vomit while being administered a lethal injection.

Yet, according to a DOC statement shared by FOX 25 reporter Rebecca Pryor, “inmate Grant’s execution was carried out in accordance with Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ protocols and without complications.”

Scott Crow’s deadly legacy

Earlier this year, Crow testified before a federal judge the state used the wrong drug labels during three recent executions. Yet, he doubled down on his support for executions, saying he remained 100% confident the correct drugs were used.

Currently, the DOC faces a lawsuit seeking the public release of the source of Oklahoma’s lethal injection drugs.

“The fact that [John Grant] died after 25 minutes of suffering, vomiting and convulsing, that’s wrong. That’s a botched attempt,” plaintiff Fred Hodara told The Black Wall Street Times in November. “We need to know what it is that the state is doing in its administrative process that’s causing these repeated gruesome deaths.”

The vast majority of pharmaceutical companies have refused to supply states with resources for lethal injection executions, calling into question whether the state is using illegal sources.

DOC Director Scott Crow’s last day will be Oct. 31.

As he prepares to relinquish his role as a legal grim reaper, he leaves behind a trail of blood, botched executions and an infamous record that now makes Oklahoma top ten in state-sanctioned murder.

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