MINNEAPOLIS — The inmate who stabbed former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in federal prison last week did so 22 times, with an improvised knife, according to recently filed criminal charges. He also admitted to corrections officers that he would have killed Chauvin had they not responded as quickly as they did.
The U.S. Attorney's Office identified the alleged perpetrator as 52-year-old John Turscak. He now faces charges of attempted murder, assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.
Chauvin was badly hurtone week ago; the charging documents indicate the stabbing happened in the law library at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona. Chauvin is currently serving his 22-year sentence there. The former police officer was convicted of killing George Floyd during an arrest in May 2020.
A WCCO source earlier this week said that Chauvin was hospitalized following the attack, but was said to be in stable condition.
The Associated Press reports that Turscak told investigators that he attacked Chauvin on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, as a symbolic connection to the Black Lives Matter movement and the "Black Hand" symbol associated with the Mexican Mafia gang, prosecutors said. Turscak is serving a 30-year sentence for crimes committed while a member of that Mexican Mafia gang.
However, in contrast to what corrections officers reported, Turscak told FBI agents that even though he'd been thinking about assaulting Chauvin for a month because he is a high-profile inmate, he denied wanting to kill him.
An attorney for Turscak was not listed in court records and Turscak, who has represented himself in numerous court matters from prison, remained in custody on Friday.
Chauvin's attorney Greg Erickson, who complained over the weekend thatuntil well after the news broke, told WCCO Friday that they were "extremely disappointed they allowed this to happen" and that it was "not shocking" that someone would target Chauvin. Erickson reiterated that the prison should have done more to prevent it from happening.
WCCO spoke with Chauvin's attorney Greg Erickson on the phone Friday evening. He says this was his biggest fear for Chauvin and that it didn't matter what prison he was sent to.
"The fact that it happened, and he got stabbed 22 times supposedly under their protection is evidence that they weren't taking the obligation to protect him serious," Erickson said.
Erickson says at this point he's hearing information from the news. In fact, WCCO told him about these new charges.
"We are hearing second and third hand from news agencies," Erickson said. "It's incredibly frustrating."
Meanwhile, documents detail Turscak's troubled past.
In 1990, he committed a homicide at Folsom State Prison. Eight years later, he took various steps to authorize the murder of another man.
Documents also state, during his time in the Mexican Mafia, he collected taxes from street gangs and drug dealers in return for mafia protection.
One year later, he worked as an undercover FBI informant against that very gang. But the FBI dropped him when he kept dealing drugs and authorizing assaults.
Turscak is serving a 30-year sentence.
Chauvin's legal team says they are working to get him removed from that facility unless major changes are made.
It's not clear if Chauvin will be moved to a different federal prison. During both of his federal and state criminal proceedings, Chauvin's defense attorney asked he be sentenced to a federal prison in or near Minnesota to be closer to his family. Visits at the Tuscon prison are still suspended in the aftermath of the stabbing.
The FBI spearheaded the investigation into the stabbing, and the prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney's Office District of Arizona in Tucson.
Chauvin is now the second high-profile federal prisoner to be stabbed in recent months, after Larry Nassar, convicted of molesting members of the U.S. women's national gymnastics team,.
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