The Second Execution of Romell Broom
Reviewed by Mansfield Frazier
It took German documentary filmmaker Michael Verhoeven to come to Ohio and make a film that examines the death penalty. In the end, The Second Execution of Romell Broom, which had its world premiere at the Cleveland International Film Festival on Monday, raises as many questions as it answers in regards to the guilt or innocence of the title character.
But the purpose of the gripping tale, shot primarily in Columbus and Cleveland and featuring local legend Yvonne Pointer (whose own 14-year-old daughter was brutally raped and killed 25 years ago), wasn’t to exculpate Broom of the crime… but to highlight the barbaric practice — and at that it exceeded quite well.
Broom was scheduled to be executed in September of 2009 for the rape/murder of 14-year-old Tryna Middleton of East Cleveland, but the technicians assigned to administer the lethal drug cocktail via an IV drip could not locate a suitable vein… in spite of a two- hour attempt and poking 19 holes in his body. Frustrated with the executioner’s failed attempts, Broom tried to help them locate a suitable vein for them to use.
Granted a week’s stay of execution by then-Governor Ted Strickland, Broom’s lawyers have fought tooth and nail to make the case that once the states has tried and failed to kill someone, they should not be allowed to try again. The case is currently winding its way through the court system.
But the real tragedy of state-sanctioned murder wasn’t played out in the film as much as it was played out after the film. Many of the people featured in the documentary (full disclosure: I appeared in the film) were in the audience and participated in a Q & A after the screening. That’s when the real pain of the death penalty evidenced itself. Many of the victims, family members of the accused, and even the lawyers who participated in the case are still suffering almost 30 years after the brutal act… because the death penalty is still being litigated.
If Broom had been given life without the possibility of parole all of these people could by now have moved on with their lives. As the case currently stands they’ll have at least another decade of twisting in the ill winds of this abominable practice.
From Cool Cleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available again in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author by visiting http://www.NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.com.