KEY POINTS

  • A Nevada death row inmate prefers a firing squad over the state's three-drug lethal injection, his lawyers say
  • State law, however, requires death by capital punishment to be inflicted by lethal drug injection
  • This comes as Nevada lawmakers discuss banning the death penalty in the state

A convicted killer in Nevada is asking to be executed by firing quad instead of the state's protocol of lethal injection, but can the court agree to his request?

Zane Michael Floyd, 45, who was convicted in 2000 for killing four people with a shotgun in a Las Vegas supermarket in 1999 and badly wounding a fifth, is set to be the first person to be executed in Nevada since 2006. Court papers filed in the U.S. District Court Friday by his federal public defenders said Floyd preferred getting shot over facing the state's "torturous" three-drug lethal injection, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

The death row inmate also reportedly chose which weapons and ammunition would be used in the execution, with the lawyers saying Floyd "specifically requests using a .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire caliber bullet of 40 to 60 grains, fired by 2 to 3 rifles of the .22 WMR class."

While Nevada once allowed firing squads, state law now requires that death by capital punishment be inflicted by an injection of a lethal drug. Any challenge to a state's method of execution requires the defense to provide an alternative. 

"Execution by firing squad is a feasible alternative method of execution that would significantly reduce the substantial risk of pain from Nevada’s current three-drug protocol," the attorneys said.

They also argued that Floyd's constitutional rights were being violated as the state's Department of Corrections did not publicly disclose which drugs would be used for the execution.

"The State is treating Floyd disparately in depriving him of his fundamental right to notice of the manner in which the State intends to carry out his execution," the lawyers wrote in a separate pleading obtained by Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Nevada’s three-drug injection combination includes the sedative diazepam, the powerful synthetic painkiller fentanyl and a paralytic, cisatracurium, CBS News reported.

However, this faced scrutiny after Scott Dozier, another death row inmate, asked to be executed over four years ago — before he took his own life in 2019. Two of the drugs proposed for Dozier's execution have since expired, while the state’s supply of fentanyl was expected to expire in June, per the Review-Journal.

The prison director is required by state law to "select the drug or combination of drugs to be used for the execution after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer."

The date of Floyd's execution could be set for the week of June 7 as prosecutors are seeking the issuance of an execution warrant at a hearing next month, the Associated Press reported. His lawyers are asking a federal judge in Las Vegas to delay the execution until prison officials "devise a new procedure or procedures to carry out a lawful execution." 

All of this comes as Nevada lawmakers consider banning death penalty in the state, KLAS reported.

chain-link-690503_1920 Representation. Floyd was sentenced to death for killing four people and injuring another in 1999. Photo: Pixabay