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Oklahoma DOC Chief Gets Bullet-Resistant SUV After Botched Execution, Threats

Oklahoma's Department of Corrections director Robert Patton has been provided with a team of bodyguards and a bullet-resistant SUV in the wake of purported death threats following the botched execution of a death row prisoner.

Threatening emails and phone calls to Patton followed the April 29, 2014, execution of Clayton Lockett, according to DOC officials.

Witnesses say Lockett's execution was stopped after he began writhing, mumbling and trying to get up from his gurney. Preliminary autopsy results indicate that Lockett—who was convicted in the murder of Stephanie Neiman— died of an apparent heart attack and that the IV carrying the lethal drugs used to execute him was not properly inserted. The state is reportedly still conducting an investigation into Lockett's death.

According to records provided by Oklahoma's Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), DOC spent $32,627 on a bullet-resistant SUV with tinted windows and ballistic panels to protect Patton when he travels. After purchasing a light package and a radio, the total cost of the vehicle was $40,587.

Members of DOC’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will serve as Patton’s security detail and drive the SUV. Four staff members were given security training, and the costs for travel and lodging related to the training were $2,710.

OIG was investigating the threatening emails, but did not disclose the results of that investigation. The phone calls—which were more threatening, according to DOC spokesman Jerry Massie—could not be traced.

Massie would not discuss the make and model of the bullet-resistant SUV or details about Patton's bodyguards.

"We feel that would compromise the security of the director," Massie said.

Patton became Oklahoma's DOC director in January 2014 after former DOC chief Justin Jones resigned amid staffing shortages, overcrowded facilities and poor funding. Patton had been working as division director of operations for the Arizona Department of Corrections.

As part of a 2011 lawsuit filed by death row prisoners in Arizona, Patton was forced to admit in a deposition that a member of the Arizona DOC execution team—which he oversaw—lacked the necessary qualifications to administer an IV. Patton acknowledged that he never bothered to check if the execution team members had experience placing femoral IVs, which is a requirement of Arizona's execution protocol.

Source: Tulsa World