Zagorski files suit against use of electric chair, claiming it's 'utterly barbaric'

Posted at 4:59 PM, Oct 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-27 11:55:42-04

Attorneys for death row inmate Edmund Zagorski filed yet another suit in federal court Friday in what is likely among one of his final options to stop his upcoming death penalty, set to be carried out in the electric chair on Thursday.

In this latest lawsuit, Zagorski’s attorney Kelley Henry claims the state’s method of execution by electrocution is cruel and unusual punishment and “utterly barbaric,” despite Zagorski selecting the electric chair over lethal injection – a choice that Henry has described as the lesser of two evils.  ​​Zagorski’s attorney claims both forms of execution are unconstitutional, as was the choice Zagorski had to make in selecting how he wants to die, from between two choices that Zagorski’s attorney says are cruel and unusual.

But several courts have already ruled that Tennessee’s lethal injection protocol is in fact constitutional, in part because several inmates claiming otherwise couldn't prove that an alternative to the state’s lethal injection method exists in Tennessee.

In the new lawsuit, Zagorski’s attorney argues that Tennessee’s electric chair is “incompetently designed,” and that Zagorski will suffer as it “burns Mr. Zagorski’s skin from his skull, boils his blood and fails to promptly stop his heart and brain function.”

Zagorski was originally set to be executed Oct. 11, but Governor Bill Haslam granted Zagorski a temporary reprieve, in part so the state could make sure its electric chair was able to be used properly.  The execution has been rescheduled for Nov. 1.

Zagors​​​​​​ki was sentenced to death in 1984 for killing two men he robbed during a drug deal.

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A doctor named in the previous lawsuit claimed the injection would make the inmates feel as if they were choking, drowning in their own fluids or being buried alive.

Friday's complaint said that "while better than lethal injection, such a death is still utterly barbaric."

It goes on to say, “This suit is filed because the State of Tennessee has coerced Mr. Zagorski — with the threat of extreme chemical torture via a barbaric three-drug lethal injection protocol — to choose to die a painful and gruesome death in the electric chair. Such a death is clearly cruel and unusual, albeit to Mr. Zagorski less cruel than the threatened chemical torture.”