DEREK Chauvin was stabbed in prison 22 times by a former gang leader and one-time FBI informant who told investigators he targeted the ex-Minneapolis police officer because of his notoriety for killing George Floyd, federal prosecutors said Friday.
John Turscak, 52, was charged with attempted murder a week after the Nov. 24 attack at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona.
Turscak, who is serving a 30-year sentence for crimes committed while a member of the Mexican Mafia prison gang, told investigators he thought about attacking Chauvin for a month because he is a high-profile inmate but denied wanting to kill him, prosecutors said.
Turscak is accused of attacking Chauvin with an improvised knife in the prison law library around 12:30 p.m. on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Correctional officers used pepper spray to subdue Turscak, prosecutors said. Chauvin was taken to a hospital
Turscak told FBI agents interviewing him after the assault that he attacked Chauvin on Black Friday as a symbolic connection to the Black Lives Matter movement, which garnered widespread support in the wake of Floyd’s murder in 2020, and the “Black Hand” symbol associated with the Mexican Mafia, prosecutors said.
In addition to attempted murder, Turscak, 52, is charged with assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury. The attempted murder and assault with intent to commit murder charges are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Turscak is scheduled to complete his current sentence in 2026.
Chauvin, 47, was sent to FCI Tucson from a maximum-security Minnesota state prison in August 2022 to simultaneously serve a 21-year federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights and a 22½-year state sentence for second-degree murder.
‘I can’t breathe’
Floyd, who was Black, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on his neck for 9½ minutes on the street outside a convenience store where Floyd was suspected of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.
Bystander video captured Floyd’s fading cries of “I can’t breathe.” His death touched off protests worldwide, some of which turned violent, and forced a national reckoning with police brutality and racism.
Three other former officers who were at the scene received lesser state and federal sentences for their roles in Floyd’s death.
Chauvin’s stabbing comes as the federal Bureau of Prisons has faced increased scrutiny in recent years following the beating death of James “Whitey” Bulger in 2018 and wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein’s jail suicide in 2019.
The attack on Chauvin was the third incident involving a high-profile federal prison inmate in the last six months. Disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar was stabbed in July at a federal penitentiary in Florida and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski killed himself at a federal medical center in June.