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Derek Chauvin Returns to Federal Prison After Stabbing. Here’s What to Know

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Updated: | Originally published:

Derek Chauvin, a former police officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd, has returned to federal prison after being stabbed behind bars in Arizona on Friday, Chauvin’s attorney said.

Chauvin was allegedly stabbed by 52-year-old inmate John Turscak, who used an “improvised knife,” according to NBC News. Chauvin had been receiving aid in the trauma care facility at a nearby hospital in Tucson, Ariz., but is now able to receive care from prison.

“His family is very concerned about the facility’s capacity to protect Derek from further harm. They remain unassured that any changes have been made to the faulty procedures that allowed Derek’s attack to occur in the first place,” Gregory M. Erickson, Chauvin’s attorney, told NBC News in a statement on Sunday.

“I am sad to hear that Derek Chauvin was the target of violence,” Minnesota’s Attorney General Keith Ellison previously told TIME in an emailed statement. “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.”

Chauvin is serving two sentences for murdering Floyd and violating his civil rights after being caught on camera in 2020 kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck for more than nine minutes as Floyd repeated that he couldn’t breathe.

What do we know about the stabbing incident?

Chauvin was allegedly stabbed and seriously injured by Turscak in the law library on Friday afternoon inside FCI Tucson, a medium security federal correctional institution.

The Bureau of Prisons confirmed in an emailed press release to TIME that Chauvin was assaulted around 12:30 p.m. local time and hospitalized after staff performed “life-saving measures.” The agency notified the FBI, it said.

Turscak now faces charges for attempted murder, assault with intent to commit murder, and more, federal prosecutors said. A criminal complaint read by NBC News says that Turscak told officers he would have killed Chauvin if they had not acted quickly to stop the attack. Turscak also reportedly told federal prosecutors that he decided to attack Chauvin on Black Friday as a way to symbolize the Black Lives Matter movement, according to NBC. Erickson said it is still unclear how Turscak was able to get his hands on an improvised knife.

Visiting at the facility has been suspended until further notice, the prison’s website said on Saturday.

TIME also reached out by phone to the public information officer at FCI Tucson on Saturday for information.

Who is Derek Chauvin?

Chauvin is a white former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on the neck of Floyd, a Black city resident who had been accused of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a convenience store, before Floyd died. 

The video sparked the largest racial justice protests across the country since the Civil Rights Movement, criticizing racially disproportionate fatal police shootings of Black Americans and seeking racial justice in all areas of society, inspiring similar actions around the world.

Chauvin and three other police officers who watched the incident—Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao—were fired the next day. Three days after that, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, which was later revised to second-degree murder.

In 2021, Chauvin was convicted of murder and sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. Chauvin also pled guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights and in 2022, was sentenced to a 21-year federal sentence.

Chauvin arrived at FCI Tucson in August 2022 from a Minnesota state prison, where he was largely held in solitary confinement for his own protection, his attorney wrote in court filings last year, the AP reported.

Chauvin has appealed his conviction on the grounds that the jury was biased and based on the judge’s past rulings. A Minnesota appellate court upheld his conviction and rejected his right to a new trial in April. The U.S. Supreme Court also declined on Nov. 20 to hear his appeal, Reuters reported.

His fellow former officers were sentenced to between 2.5 and 3.5 years in prison for depriving Floyd his right to medical care, with two additionally convicted of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin.

What is life like inside Chauvin’s prison?

Chauvin’s stabbing is not the first case of violence at FCI Tucson. 

Last November, another inmate in a minimum-security area of the prison pulled out a gun, which he was not supposed to have, and tried to shoot a female visitor in the head in the visitation area, the AP reported.

The man repeatedly tried to shoot his wife, but the gun jammed, per Forbes. The issue is not unique to FCI Tucson.

The Bureau of Prisons, which holds nearly 144,000 inmates in its facilities, self-reported a rate of close to 0.2 serious assaults on inmates for every 5,000 prisoners as of April, down from a rate of 1.2 in January 2020, the highest in the available data. 

An AP investigation found that facilities across the Bureau of Prisons suffered short staffing, violence, criminal misconduct, sexual abuse and escaping inmates, prompting the resignation of the agency’s director and the appointment of a new one to lead reform last year. 

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Prisons shut down a unit in its newest federal prison after an investigation by NPR and The Marshall Project last year uncovered violence and abuse, with five suspected homicides and two alleged suicides since 2019. 

In another high-profile incident behind bars that prompted scrutiny, Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide inside a federal jail in New York while awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused girls and women. The two guards assigned to Epstein were charged with falsifying records after they were sleeping and shopping online instead of watching him when he died.

The U.S. government closed that jail two years later. 

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