Derek Chauvin, the former police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, was stabbed by a fellow inmate 22 times at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona, on November 24, 2023. Occurring at around 12:30 p.m., the attack resulted in Chauvin’s hospitalization, where he remains in stable condition.
Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s Attorney General and the lead prosecutor in Chauvin’s case, expressed his sadness about the incident. He stressed the importance of Chauvin serving his sentence without the threat of violence or retaliation.
Chauvin, 47, is serving a 22 1/2-year sentence for second-degree murder and a concurrent 21-year federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights, following his conviction in the highly publicized case.
Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, knelt on his neck for over nine minutes. The incident, captured on bystander video showing Floyd’s pleas of “I can’t breathe,” ignited global protests against police brutality and systemic racism.
John Turscak, 52, a former gang leader and FBI informant, was charged with the attempted murder. Turscak is serving a 30-year sentence for crimes related to his involvement with the Mexican Mafia.
Prosecutors reported that Turscak, who led a Los Angeles-based faction of the Mexican Mafia in the 1990s, had been contemplating the attack on Chauvin for about a month, driven by the ex-cop’s high-profile status. Turscak told FBI agents that the assault, which he carried out with an improvised knife in the prison’s law library, was symbolically linked to the Black Lives Matter movement and the “Black Hand” symbol of the Mexican Mafia. However, he later denied intending to kill Chauvin.
Turscak, also known as “Stranger,” became an FBI informant in 1997 but was later dropped due to continued criminal activities. He pleaded guilty in 2001 to racketeering and conspiring to kill a gang rival. His current charges include attempted murder, assault with intent to commit murder, and assault with a dangerous weapon, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He is due to complete his current sentence in 2026.
Safety concerns for Chauvin have been ongoing. Before his August 2022 transfer to federal custody, he was held in solitary confinement in Minnesota’s prisons for 23 hours daily. His lawyer had argued for keeping Chauvin separate from the general prison population to avert such incidents.
The stabbing marks another serious security breach at the Tucson federal prison, following a shooting attempt in November 2022. The medium-security facility, designed to offer increased protection for inmates such as informants, sex offenders, and former law enforcement officers, has struggled with security issues and staff shortages.
The attack raises significant concerns about inmate safety, particularly for those involved in high-profile cases. Visitation to the prison has been temporarily halted by the Bureau of Prisons in response to the incident.