By Justin Sink - 05/02/14 01:01 PM EDT
President Obama called the botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate "deeply troubling" and said Friday he would order a federal review of the country's use of the death penalty.
Obama said that "we have seen significant problems" with the application of the death penalty and that he would ask Attorney General Eric Holder to undertake "an analysis of what steps have been taken not just in this particular instance but more broadly."
“I think as a society, we have to ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions," Obama added.
At the same time, the president reiterated that he supported use of the death penalty in some instances.
"There are certain circumstances in which crimes are so terrible that the death penalty might be appropriate: mass killings, the killing of children," Obama said.
Clayton Lockett, 38, died earlier this week after suffering a heart attack, following the administration of the first part of a three-drug lethal cocktail. According to media reports, Lockett was writhing in pain and clenching his teeth before ultimately succumbing to cardiac failure.
Lockett was convicted of shooting a 19-year-old woman in 1999 and watching as accomplices buried her alive.
Oklahoma officials halted a second planned execution, and Gov. Mary Fallin (R) ordered the state to conduct a review of execution procedures.
Earlier this week, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the execution "fell short" of humane standards.
Death pentalty opponents praised the president's remarks.
"President Obama’s remarks resonate with the millions who are appalled by the inhumane deaths administered recently by Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, and other state governments. We are encouraged that he has placed the death penalty on the Attorney General’s agenda to address not only the cruelty of lethal injection but also the racial disparities in death sentences. The ACLU has long believed that we must end America’s unjust and discriminatory use of capital punishment. We look forward to working with the Attorney General on the President’s mandate," Laura Murphy, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington Legislative Office, said in a statement.
This post was updated at 4:35 p.m.