Federal prosecutors said Derek Chauvin was stabbed 22 times in prison by a gang leader, who was also a former FBI informant.
John Turscak was charged with assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury on Friday. The attempted murder and assault with intent to commit murder charges are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Turscak had been scheduled to complete his current sentence in 2026.
Turscak is accused of stabbing Chauvin 22 times on Nov. 24 at the law library of the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona. Turscak reportedly told correctional officers that he would have killed Chauvin had they not responded so quickly. Officers reportedly used pepper spray to subdue Turscak.
The 52-year-old inmate attacked Chauvin with an “improvised knife” with the “intent to do bodily harm” and to “commit murder,” according to the New York Post.
The knife attack happened around 12:30 p.m. on Black Friday, prosecutors said. Turscak reportedly told FBI agents that he purposely attacked Chauvin on Black Friday as a symbolic connection to the Black Lives Matter movement and the “Black Hand” symbol associated with the Mexican Mafia criminal organization.
The Associated Press reported, “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 has been transferred to an adjacent federal prison in Tucson.
Prison staffers performed “life-saving measures” on Chauvin, the Bureau of Prisons said. Chauvin was rushed to a hospital for “emergency medical treatment.”
Three days after the attack, federal authorities told Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, that her 47-year-old son was in stable condition in a medical facility and “has protection.”
The former Minneapolis police officer was sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in August 2022 – where he will simultaneously serve a 21-year federal sentence for violating George Floyd’s civil rights and a 22-year state sentence for second-degree murder.
Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, previously warned that Chauvin should not be subjected to the general population because he would be a prized target for inmates. Nelson wrote in court papers last year that the ex-cop was mainly kept in solitary confinement “largely for his own protection.”
Turscak – who went by the nickname “Stranger” – was a Los Angeles gang leader with the Mexican Mafia in the late 1990s. In 1997, Turscak reportedly became an FBI informant, who provided inside information about the gang and covertly recorded conversations with Mexican Mafia members.
In 2001, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for committing crimes while working as an FBI informant.
According to CBS News, “During his time in the mafia, he said he authorized ‘assaults of individuals for infractions of Mexican Mafia rules,’ and collected ‘taxes’ from street gangs and drug dealers in ‘return for Mexican Mafia protection and permission to engage in narcotics trafficking.’ He also said he murdered a man in 1990 while he was in Folsom Prison, and authorized the murder of another man in 1998, according to documents.”
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