WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says the botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate highlights significant problems with the death penalty and he's asking his attorney general for a review.
Obama says he found inmate Clayton Lockett's execution Tuesday "deeply troubling."
Lockett convulsed violently during the execution and tried to lift his head after a doctor declared him unconscious. He later died of an apparent heart attack.
Obama said at a news conference Friday that he believes the death penalty is merited in some cases and that Lockett's crimes were heinous. But he says the penalty's application in the U.S. has problems, including racial bias and the eventual exoneration of some death row inmates.
He says he's asking Attorney General Eric Holder for an analysis of the penalty's application.
Some of the three drugs used in the botched execution didn't enter Lockett's system because the vein they were injected into -- in his groin -- collapsed, and that failure wasn't noticed for 21 minutes, the state's prison chief said, urging changes to the state's execution procedure.
On Tuesday the United Nations human rights office in Geneva said Clayton Lockett's execution may amount to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international human rights law.
A letter written Thursday by Oklahoma's prisons director Robert Patton to the state's governor detailing Lockett's last day described how medical officials tried for nearly an hour to find a vein in Lockett's arms, legs, and neck before finally inserting an IV into his groin.
By the time a doctor lifted a sheet covering the inmate and noticed the line had become dislodged from the vein, all of the execution drugs had already been administered and there wasn't another suitable vein, the report noted.
"The drugs had either absorbed into tissue, leaked out, or both," Patton wrote. "The director asked the following question: 'Have enough drugs been administered to cause death?' The doctor responded, 'No.'"
About three minutes after a doctor declared Lockett to be unconscious at 6:33 p.m., the inmate began breathing heavily, writhing on the gurney and straining to lift his head from the pillow. The condemned man could be seen speaking, CBS affiliate KOTV in Tulsa reported.
"It was a horrible thing to witness. This was totally botched," said Lockett's attorney, David Autry.