Inmate Who Stabbed Derek Chauvin Identified as Former FBI Informant

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
December 3, 2023US News
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Inmate Who Stabbed Derek Chauvin Identified as Former FBI Informant
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin appears via Zoom from a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., on March 17, 2023. (Minnesota Judicial Branch via AP)

A former FBI informant stabbed Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer who was convicted for murdering George Floyd, according to court documents filed on Dec. 1.

John Turscak, 52, stabbed Mr. Chauvin 22 times with an “improvised knife” in federal prison in Arizona, according to the documents.

Mr. Turscak was subdued by responding corrections officers.

Mr. Turscak later told officers he would have killed Mr. Chauvin if the officers had not responded so quickly, federal prosecutors said in the documents.

The stabbing took place on Nov. 24 at about 12:30 p.m.

Mr. Turscak waived his Miranda rights and told FBI agents in an interview that he did not want to kill Mr. Chauvin but had been thinking about attacking him for about one month and saw an opportunity to do so when both were in the law library at the Federal Correctional Institution Tucson on the day after Thanksgiving, known commonly as Black Friday.

“Turscak stated that his attack of [Mr. Chauvin] on Black Friday was symbolic with the Black Lives Matter Movement and the ‘black hand’ symbol associated with the Mexican Mafia criminal organization,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Turscak was charged with four counts, including assault with a dangerous weapon and assault with intent to commit murder. He was moved after the stabbing to an adjacent federal penitentiary in Tucson, where he remained in custody Friday, inmate records show.

Mr. Turscak did not have a lawyer listed on the court docket.

A lawyer for Mr. Chauvin did not return an inquiry about the charges.

Federal officials have said an inmate at the Tuscon facility was stabbed on Nov. 24 and that the inmate was rushed to a hospital. They said they would not identify the inmate.

“For privacy and safety reasons, we are not providing the name of the victim or their medical status,” a Bureau of Prisons (BOP) spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.

Minnesota officials had said that Mr. Chauvin was the inmate and that he was expected to survive.

Carolyn Pawlenty, Mr. Chauvin’s mother, wrote on Facebook on Friday that she is seeking answers regarding the stabbing.

“The FBI and BOP are not giving me any answers other then [sic] ‘he is in stable condition and it is under investigation,'” she wrote.

“Who did this, where were the guards, where is the video showing what happened?? How could you let this happen?” she wondered.

Gregory Erickson, a lawyer who has represented Mr. Chauvin, told The Epoch Times via email a day after the attack that none of Mr. Chauvin’s family members nor his lawyers had been apprised of his condition or location. “I view this lack of communication with his attorneys and family members as completely outrageous. It appears to be indicative of a poorly run facility and indicates how Derek’s assault was allowed to happen,” he said.

BOP declined to respond directly but a spokesperson said it “takes seriously our duty to protect the individuals entrusted in our custody, as well as maintain the safety of correctional employees and the community.”

Sent to Federal Prison

Mr. 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.

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer at the time had advocated for keeping him out of the general population and away from other inmates, anticipating he would be a target.

In November, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Chauvin’s appeal of his murder conviction. Separately, Mr. Chauvin is trying to overturn his federal guilty plea, claiming new evidence shows he didn’t cause Mr. Floyd’s death.

Mr. Floyd’s death was determined to be a homicide, with the man suffering a heart attack while being restrained by law enforcement officers on May 25, 2020.

Mr. Chauvin while detaining Mr. Floyd knelt on Mr. Floyd’s back and neck, according to the medical examiner and expert testimony at his trial. But Mr. Floyd also had a fatal level of drugs in his system, his autopsy showed.

Inmate’s History

Mr. Turscak led a faction of the Mexican Mafia in the Los Angeles area in the late 1990s and went by the nickname “Stranger,” according to court records. He became an FBI informant in 1997, providing information about the gang and recordings of conversations he had with its members and associates.

The investigation Mr. Turscak was aiding led to more than 40 indictments. But about midway through, the FBI dropped Mr. Turscak as an informant because he was still dealing drugs, extorting money, and authorizing assaults. According to court papers, Mr. Turscak plotted attacks on rival gang members and was accused of attempting to kill a leader of a rival Mexican Mafia faction while also being targeted himself.

Mr. Turscak pleaded guilty in 2001 to racketeering and conspiring to kill a gang rival. He said he thought his cooperation with the FBI would have earned a lighter sentence.

“I didn’t commit those crimes for kicks,” Mr. Turscak said, according to news reports about his sentencing. “I did them because I had to if I wanted to stay alive. I told that to the FBI agents and they just said, ‘Do what you have to do.”’

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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