A prison inmate accused of stabbing Derek Chauvin, the police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, has been charged with attempted murder.
John Turscak, an incarcerated former gang member, was charged on Friday after allegedly stabbing the ex-Minneapolis officer 22 times at a federal correctional institution in Tuscon, Arizona, last month.
Federal prosecutors said Turscak – who is serving a 30 year sentence – would have killed Chauvin had correctional officers not responded so quickly. Chauvin is expected to survive the attack, according to Reuters.
Turscak reportedly told investigators he had thought about attacking Chauvin for a month due to him being a high profile inmate. Turscak later denied wanting to kill the disgraced officer, according to the Associated Press.
The incident allegedly occurred in the prison’s law library at around 12.30pm local time on November 24, the day after Thanksgiving.
Turscak, 52, allegedly used an improvised knife to stab Chauvin. Prison staff stopped the attack and performed “life-saving measures” before transporting Chauvin to hospital for treatment.
According to prosecutors, Turscak told FBI agents interviewing him after the assault that he attacked Chauvin on Black Friday as a symbolic connection to the Black Lives Matter movement, which garnered widespread support in the wake of Floyd’s death.
The timing of the attack also had a connection with the “Black Hand” symbol associated with the Mexican Mafia, prosecutors said.
Turscak is also charged with assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.
The attempted murder and assault with intent to commit murder charges are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He had been scheduled to complete his current sentence in 2026.
George Floyd, a Black man, died on 25 May 2020 after Chauvin, who is white, kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes on the street outside a convenience store where Floyd allegedly tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill.
A bystander video captured Floyd’s fading cries of “I can’t breathe.” Floyd’s death touched off protests worldwide, some of which turned violent, and forced a national reckoning with police brutality and racism.
Chauvin, 47, is serving a 21-year sentence at a federal prison for the killing. He is trying to overturn his federal civil rights conviction in the murder, claiming new evidence shows that he didn’t cause Floyd’s death.
He was convicted of second-degree murder and manslaughter in 2021. He also pleaded guilty to federal charges for violating Floyd’s civil rights and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
Chauvin’s lawyer at the time, Eric Nelson, had advocated for keeping him out of general population and away from other inmates, anticipating he would be a target.
In Minnesota, Chauvin was mainly kept in solitary confinement “largely for his own protection,” Nelson wrote in court papers last year.