Early Friday morning, a Utah man became the first death row inmate executed by firing squad since 1996. The lead-up to his execution, as well as the aftermath, has not only raised questions about using bullets to kill death-row inmates, but it has also renewed debates on capital punishment.
According to an article in the Associated Press, Ronnie Lee Gardner was pronounced dead at 12:17 a.m. Friday after five volunteer police officers shot him in the chest using rifles. The executioners aimed for a black target pinned to his chest and over his heart.
Pictures of the execution chamber, including images of bullet holes in the wood behind the chair Gardner sat in, can be viewed in this photo gallery on the Kansas City Star website.
The article says Gardner requested the firing squad instead of lethal injection. Even so, many groups quickly reacted to Gardner’s death, with the American Civil Liberties Union calling the execution “barbaric” and the European Union releasing a statement of opposition to capital punishment.
Gardner’s brother commented to The Associated Press after the execution, saying, “I don’t agree with what he done or what they done, but I’m relieved he’s free.”
Should firing squad executions be legal?