Last public execution in USA, 1936
Basically mistakes in how it was run and the public perception they received from it – for example the public was expecting to see the first time a woman [the Sheriff] executed a man, instead they got a drunk man basically falling over activating the gallows. The press wrote bad things about the mostly underwhelming (from their expectations) event, and so those in charge were embarrassed and decided to have non-public executions from then on.
Among the hundreds of letters that Sheriff Thompson received after it came to public attention she would perform the hanging was one from Arthur L. Hash, a former Louisville police officer, who offered his services free of charge to perform the execution. Thompson quickly decided to accept this offer. He only asked that she not make his name public.
…Hash arrived at the site intoxicated, wearing a white suit and a white Panama hat. At this time, no one but he and Thompson knew he would be pulling the trigger.
…Hanna placed the noose around Bethea’s neck, adjusted it, and then signaled to Hash to pull the trigger. Instead, Hash, who was drunk, did nothing. Hanna shouted at Hash, “Do it!” and a deputy leaned onto the trigger which sprang the trap door. Throughout all of this, the crowd was hushed. Bethea fell eight feet, and his neck was instantly broken.