Inmate Who Stabbed Derek Chauvin Identified as Former FBI Informant

Inmate accused of stabbing Mr. Chauvin 22 times.
Inmate Who Stabbed Derek Chauvin Identified as Former FBI Informant
Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin addresses the court in Minneapolis on June 25, 2021. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
Zachary Stieber

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

John Turscak, 52, stabbed Mr. Chauvin 22 times with an “improvised knife” at a federal prison in Arizona on Nov. 24, according to the documents.

Mr. Turscak was subdued by responding corrections officers.

He later told officers he would’ve killed Mr. Chauvin if officers hadn’t responded so quickly, federal prosecutors said in the documents.

Mr. Turscak waived his Miranda rights and told FBI agents in an interview that he didn’t 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, commonly known 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 on Dec. 1, inmate records show.

Mr. Turscak didn’t have a lawyer listed on the court docket.

A lawyer for Mr. Chauvin didn’t return an inquiry about the charges.

Federal officials have said an inmate at the Tucson facility was rushed to a hospital after being stabbed on Nov. 24. They said they wouldn’t 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 Dec. 1 that she’s 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?”

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.

While the BOP declined to respond directly, 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 22 1/2-year state sentence for second-degree murder.

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

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

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 Floyd, knelt on his back and neck, according to the medical examiner and expert testimony at his trial. But 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 that Mr. Turscak was aiding led to more than 40 indictments. But about midway through, the FBI dropped him 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.

He 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.