A former gang member, currently incarcerated and previously acting as an FBI informant, faced charges of attempted murder on Friday for brutally stabbing Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted in George Floyd’s murder, 22 times in a federal prison attack.
Reports indicate that the assailant, identified as 52-year-old John Turscak, carried out the attack using an improvised knife in the prison’s law library. Turscak, serving a 30-year sentence for crimes committed as a member of the Mexican Mafia gang, claimed the attack was premeditated, motivated by Chauvin’s high-profile status as the officer convicted in George Floyd’s death. Chauvin, transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona, was supposed to be in a secure environment.
In an interview with FBI agents post-incident, Turscak explained that his Black Friday attack on Chauvin was a symbolic gesture linked to the Black Lives Matter movement, gaining momentum after Floyd’s death. He mentioned the “Black Hand” emblem associated with the Mexican Mafia, according to prosecutors’ statements.
Turscak faces multiple charges, including assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, and assault causing serious bodily harm. The attempted murder and assault with intent to commit murder charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years each.
Court records do not list an attorney for Turscak, who has a history of representing himself in legal proceedings. Following the stabbing, Turscak was transferred to a nearby federal penitentiary in Tucson, where he remained detained as of Friday.
After the incident on Black Friday, Chauvin’s mother Carolyn Pawlenty learned through media reports and expressed concern over not being contacted by prison officials. Chauvin’s attorney, Bill Mohrman, attempted to contact the Bureau of Prisons but received no response.
Gregory M. Erickson, one of Chauvin’s attorneys, criticized the Arizona prison for lack of transparency, stating it reflects a poorly run facility. He emphasized the need for better procedures and institutional control, expressing concern that family members were not informed after the stabbing.
Prison staff administered life-saving measures before Chauvin was hospitalized, according to the Bureau of Prisons, with his condition later listed as “stable.” The Supreme Court recently rejected Chauvin’s appeal of the 2021 conviction, where he argued that the jury was biased against him.