THE family of a death row inmate has sued Alabama officials for allegedly taking part in the longest lethal injection execution in US history.
An independent autopsy has revealed that Joe Nathan James Jr., 50, endured three hours of pain when he was killed in the heartless 1994 murder of his ex-girlfriend last year.
The Alabama man was sentenced to death in 1999 after being found guilty of storming the home of the mother of two Faith Halls and shooting her in the chest, head and abdomen.
After spending over two decades on death row, he was scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. on July 28, 2022.
However, his time of death was not called until 9pm after spending nearly three hours in a room with no witnesses, his heartbroken family said.
A spokesman told the media waiting outside that there was nothing out of the ordinary, but an autopsy funded by the family and advocacy group Reprieve US gave a conflicting report.
An exposé written by Liz Bruenig for The Atlantic details the findings, which say there was evidence of multiple stab wounds and other deep lacerations, suggesting he suffered greatly.
Seeking justice, the family is now suing the governor of Alabama, the district attorney and the commissioner of justice, slamming their “secret” case.
“Alabama shrouds its execution procedures in secrecy, and much of the information related to the execution of Mr. James remains in the exclusive possession of the Alabama Department of Corrections,” according to the lawsuit, filed with The US Sun.
“However, the available facts show that the defendants unconstitutionally subjected Mr. James to excessive pain during his lengthy execution and deprived him of the right to be conscious and speak his last words prior to the administration of the deadly drugs.”
The lawsuit accused Alabama officials of sedating James before his death and preventing him from carrying out his last wishes.
“Mr. James had planned as his last words to apologize to his mother and daughters, apologize to the victim’s family and pray the Shahada, the Muslim creed,” the lawsuit reads.
“Alabama must be right at its wrong,” James’ brother Hakim James said in a statement.
“This lawsuit is not about challenging the death penalty or seeking pity on my brother. It is simply a requirement that Alabama officials recognize the humanity of the people the state executes.”
The Alabama Department of Justice denied ever sedating James, saying it was nothing out of the ordinary.
“We are conducting the ultimate punishment… and we have protocols and we are very deliberate in our process and making sure everything goes according to plan,” said ADOC Commissioner John Hamm.
“So if this takes a few minutes or a few hours, we’ll do it.”
The US Sun has reached out to ADOC for comment on the incident.
The family are seeking unspecified compensation for the “physical and psychological pain and suffering” James has endured.