For days, federal prison officials refused to release the name of the suspect who stabbed former Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer Derek Chauvin.
Update: However, on December 1, 2023, a federal indictment named the inmate as John Turscak, a former FBI information described in a 2001 Los Angeles Times article as a high-level Mexican Mafia gang leader. The indictment accuses Turscak of stabbing Chauvin 22 times in the prison law library, choosing “Black Friday” to represent the Black Lives Matter movement and Mexican Mafia’s “black hand” symbol.
Heavy contacted the Tucson, Arizona, prison where Chauvin was stabbed and wrote, “What is the name of the inmate accused of assaulting him and will he/she face charges?”
The federal Bureau of Prisons responded on November 26, 2023 and wrote, “Beyond the press release, we have no additional information to provide.” That press release confirmed an inmate was assaulted but did not confirm that the inmate was Chauvin, the former police officer convicted in the death of George Floyd.
The clamp down on information comes as Chauvin’s attorneys told Heavy, AlphaNews and the Associated Press that they have been kept in the dark about the stabbing. The Associated Press broke the story that Chauvin was stabbed and “seriously injured” through a source. According to AP, the Tucson prison where the stabbing occurred “has been plagued by security lapses and staffing shortages.”
“We know absolutely nothing. We have been completely stonewalled,” Chauvin’s attorney Gregory M. Erickson told Heavy in an email on November 26, 2023.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Federal Bureau of Prisons Has Also Refused to Reveal Derek Chauvin’s ‘Medical Status’
The Bureau of Prisons has also been tight-lipped about Chauvin’s condition. They also did not explain how such a high-profile inmate, who would clearly be a potential target, was in an environment where someone was able to stab him.
“For privacy and safety reasons, we are not providing the name of the victim or their medical status,” they wrote Heavy in an email.
The BOP attached a press release that reads, “assault at FCI Tucson.” That’s the federal correctional institution where Chauvin is housed, according to the BOP database.
“On Friday, November 24, 2023, at approximately 12:30 p.m., an incarcerated individual was assaulted at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Tucson, in Tucson, Arizona,” the release says. “Responding employees isolated and contained the incident and at no time was the public in danger.”
The release continues: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified. No employees were injured during the incident. Responding employees initiated life-saving measures for one incarcerated individual. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were requested while life-saving efforts continued. The incarcerated individual was transported by EMS to a local hospital for further treatment and evaluation.”
The BOP added, “FCI Tucson is a medium security facility.”
The only information about Chauvin’s condition so far has come from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who oversaw his prosecution.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Ellison told the newspaper on November 24, 2023, that “he was notified that Chauvin had been stabbed but survived and was in stable condition.”
“I am sad to hear that Derek Chauvin was the target of violence,” Ellison said to the Star-Tribune. “He was duly convicted of his crimes and, like any incarcerated individual, he should be able to serve his sentence without fear of retaliation or violence.”
Derek Chauvin’s Family & Attorneys Haven’t Been Given Details Either, Reports Say
Alpha News, a Minnesota site that recently released a documentary criticizing the Chauvin prosecution, reported that, as of November 25, Chauvin’s family and attorney “still had not been notified he was stabbed in prison on Friday.”
Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, told the site that she was “worried and scared,” and added, “How the hell do these news agencies know and his own mother doesn’t even know? And that [prison] has an emergency contact number [for me].”
Heavy has reached out to Chauvin’s attorney Bill Mohrman for comment. Mohrman told Alpha News, “We have attempted to contact the Bureau of Prisons regarding the media reports regarding Mr. Chauvin and we have not heard back.”
Gregory M. Erickson, another attorney for Chauvin, “slammed the lack of transparency by the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” according to the AP. “As an outsider, I view this lack of communication with his attorneys and family members as completely outrageous,” Erickson said in a statement to the AP. “It appears to be indicative of a poorly run facility and indicates how Derek’s assault was allowed to happen.”
A Minnesota Corrections official, who did not want their name printed, told the Star Tribune, “it would be standard practice that he would be separated from the general population, especially someone who is high profile and especially in a case with national prominence. It’s not clear to me how this happened.”
The newspaper reported that Chauvin’s attorneys “long advocated for separating him from the general population to protect his safety.”
The New York Times reported that the Chauvin stabbing “raises questions about inmate safety.”