Skip to content

Why a Black inmate wants firing squad instead of lethal injection

Ricky Gray (Photo Source: Virginia Department of Corrections)

Ricky Gray (Photo Source: Virginia Department of Corrections)

On New Year’s day of January 2006, Ricky Gray killed Bryan and Kathryn Harvey and their 9-year-old and 4-year-old daughters during a home invasion in Richmond, Virginia. The family was well known in the city and he was subsequently tried for their murder and received the death penalty. Gray is scheduled to die by lethal injection in January 2017 and he has filed a motion to stop the execution by lethal injection. Instead, he has argued that he would prefer a firing a squad.

At issue is the deadly combination of drugs the state of Virginia will be using to kill Gray. The chemicals being used include a sedative — pentobarbital or midazolam — followed by rocuronium bromide to halt breathing, and potassium chloride to stop the heart. Executions in other states using a similar combination have resulted in the inmate suffering what some would call a cruel death as they gasped for air and writhed in pain. Gray’s attorneys have stated in a filing, “It is both more humane, quicker, more effective, and would frankly be completely feasible in Virginia.” They argue that there is a serious risk that Virginia will “chemically torture” the man to death when it uses compounded drugs. The state has reportedly spent $66K on execution drugs for Gray and another inmate. The state does not have to identify where the drugs came from under a new state law that shields pharmacy companies from possible litigation involving executions.

In Virginia, prisoners condemned to death may chose between lethal injection or electrocution for their death. Firing squads are not permitted in Virginia so it is doubtful that Gray’s request will be granted. His lawyers instead have asked Gov. Terry McAuliffe to commute his sentence to life in prison, arguing that jurors did not hear enough evidence about Gray’s history as a sexual abuse victim and resulting drug use before they sentenced him to death


  1. alfreda.andrews on December 15, 2016 at 8:08 pm


  2. hammerclaw on December 20, 2016 at 12:11 am

    If Ricky Gray is so concerned about the lethal injection process he is allowed under Virginia law to instead opt for the electric chair. Both methods will deliver him to the same destination quickly and effectively. This challenge to lethal injection and suggestion of implementing a firing squad instead is merely a delaying tactic by his ruthless defense attorneys.

    Ricky Gray is not the victim in this matter for he slaughtered the Harvey family in unspeakable ways. It is their suffering that should be considered and remembered. Come January 18th Ricky Gray will finally be held accountable for the unfathomable violence that he inflicted upon that innocent family 11 years ago.

    Gray broke into the Harvey family home on a random whim when he saw that their front porch door was unlocked. Gray forced them into the basement. He slashed the throats of all of the victims, then beat them over the head with hammers, stabbed them in the back repeatedly and left them to suffocate in a fire he set. The jury at his trial, which was majority African American, was repulsed and outraged at his throat slashing of 4 year old Ruby and 9 year old Stella Harvey in front of their parents. It was that act that convinced them execution was the suitable punishment for this monster, (who was involved in four additional murders in a one week period in January, 2006)

  3. nosey rosy on December 20, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    i dont beliieve in death penalty BUTTT IN HIS CASE ADIOS AMIGOS REALLY …
    HOW LORD HOW can a sane man do this to a child i mean , we dont know who were raising in this world asummihg satan made him do it ? where is satan to save his ass/? people need to quit all thbe hate againn is he mentally ill? or just evil? are they the same when i see people who kill i see death for them .. there is no where on earth for you.