EXCLUSIVE: After being stabbed 22 times, Derek Chauvin suffers setbacks, double standards

Chauvin was copying documents in a federal prison law library at FCI Tucson when he was violently attacked. Since then, he says the documents he planned to file in court have gone "missing."

Derek Chauvin sits in a Hennepin County courtroom in April 2021 as his guilty verdict is read in the death of George Floyd. (YouTube screenshot)

In November 2023, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was copying documents in a law library at a federal prison in Tucson when he was stabbed 22 times. Chauvin is slowly recovering from the attack but continues to suffer a series of peculiar setbacks and double standards.

Chauvin’s missing court documents and a request for his medical records

The court documents Chauvin was copying have since gone “missing.” Chauvin said that “depending upon who you ask,” the documents are being held as “evidence,” or were “soaked with blood and mace” and thrown away. Either way, Chauvin said he no longer has the copies or the originals and has no idea if or when he will get them back.

Incidentally, another prisoner, Marco Alferez, recently filed a motion in court to compel the FBI to return items they confiscated from him when Chauvin was stabbed.

Meanwhile, a federal judge ruled that John Turscak — the prisoner and former gang member who brutally attacked and repeatedly stabbed Chauvin — will have access to legal documents in his prison cell. U.S. Magistrate Judge Lynnette C. Kimmins also ruled:

“Mr. Turscak shall be allowed access to a laptop computer (and associated power cord), one or more electronic storage drives (and associated USB cord), and paper and a writing instrument for taking notes, all for the sole purpose of reviewing the discovery in his case, in order to assist in his defense.”

In what seems like a strange setback — and an offender/victim double standard — Chauvin is being held in solitary confinement. He does not have any access to his files or legal documents, making it more difficult to move forward with his latest appeal — the one he was working on in the law library when he was stabbed by Turscak.

Chauvin’s current situation resembles the treatment he encountered in the hospital. Chauvin was unable to contact his family, including those with power of attorney concerning medical and legal matters. Likewise, they were unable to reach him.

Derek Chauvin talks to Alpha News reporter Liz Collin over the phone from prison in the documentary The Fall of Minneapolis. (Alpha News)

Yet during this critical time, Chauvin claims a prison official asked him to sign a release form for his medical records when he was moved to a second hospital after the attack. Chauvin says he didn’t recognize the official but did recognize who he claims would have been granted access to his medical records: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Chauvin says he immediately refused.

Alpha News reached out to Ellison for clarification and to once again request an interview. John Stiles, Ellison’s deputy chief of staff, replied:

“Attorney General Ellison has not made any such request and we have no idea what you’re talking about. We decline your request for an interview.”

Although Ellison’s chief of staff claimed to “have no idea,” Ellison was undeniably the first to publicly confirm Chauvin’s condition after the stabbing — before Chauvin’s family had been informed.

More mishandling of documents and witnesses?

Ellison completely took over the prosecution after Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, filed a motion against Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and other prosecutors for unethical conduct. The prosecutors — along with special agents from the FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) — mishandled interviews with Dr. Andrew M. Baker, the county medical examiner who performed the official autopsy of George Floyd. In granting Nelson’s motion and disqualifying Freeman and three other Hennepin County attorneys, Judge Cahill called the prosecutors’ work “sloppy.”

Judge Cahill also warned prosecutors under Ellison’s direction that they were “essentially not complying with the court’s order” due to their delays in sharing evidence.

Along with considerable lag time, the prosecution engaged in haystacking, according to a motion filed by Nelson. That is, instead of providing only the document Nelson requested, the prosecution delivered dozens, if not hundreds, of disorganized files to the defense. This forced Nelson to sift through hundreds of pages to find the one he needed, much like finding a needle in the proverbial haystack.

During Chauvin’s trial, Judge Cahill also criticized how Ellison’s “dream team” of attorneys were filing motion after motion to seemingly overburden the defense.

Judge Cahill questioned prosecutor Steve Schleicher about the number of motions and the number of attorneys working for the prosecution. Schleicher didn’t know how many attorneys he was working with, which prompted an admonishment from Cahill about how Chauvin’s defense attorney “did not have the same level of support.”

Double standards in the era of equity and prison reform?  

Chauvin says he has practically none of the privileges he had before he was attacked.

Chauvin said that he used to be able to regularly make phone calls, but now he doesn’t know when or if he will be given the opportunity to do so. Chauvin explained how the situation has brought his appeal to a standstill: “It’s taken weeks just to schedule a call with my public defender,” he said.

Federal assistant public defender Robert Meyers, who has been assigned to represent Chauvin, remarked, “the Bureau of Prisons hasn’t been very helpful.”

Randilee Giamusso, of the Office of Public Affairs for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, declined to comment on these “anecdotal allegations” and directed Alpha News to review federal prison policies.

Derek Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, appears in the Alpha News documentary “The Fall of Minneapolis.” (Alpha News)

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has policies about providing inmates with access to legal materials and counsel. Accordingly, it is up to the warden of a federal prison to “establish an inmate law library, and procedures for access to legal reference materials and to legal counsel, and for preparation of legal documents,” as stated in OGC, 1315.07, §543.10.

Prison policies also state that the warden “shall provide an inmate confined in disciplinary segregation or administrative detention a means of access to legal materials, along with an opportunity to prepare legal documents” (§543.11) and “allow an inmate to contact and retain attorneys” (§543.12).

Chauvin acknowledged that “things move real slow in prison,” but wondered if “something else” is going on. “I don’t know when or if I’m going to get my files back and I don’t understand why it takes weeks to schedule a phone call with my public defender,” he questioned.

Also per policy, restrictive housing measures are intended to be used temporarily, not for extended or indefinite periods of time.

In contrast to Chauvin’s solitary confinement, a recent audit indicates that FCI Tucson meets or exceeds standards for providing protective custody for inmates from sexual violence, assault, and harassment — without limiting their privileges, education, work opportunities, and other programs.

The audit identified that most protective custody measures do “not ordinarily exceed a period of 30 days” and that any exceptions should be “clearly” documented.

Regarding yet another difference in Chauvin’s situation, restrictive housing units in federal prisons typically have a window. However, Chauvin’s mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, reported after a recent visit that “Derek hasn’t seen daylight in weeks. He’s been locked up 24/7.”

No comment from prison officials

Alpha News reached out to Warden Mark Gutierrez for comment, but he did not respond.

Melissa Rios-Marques, the regional director for the Western Region of federal prisons, including FCI Tucson where Chauvin is being held in solitary confinement, also did not respond.


Dr. JC Chaix

Dr. JC Chaix is an editor, educator, and an expert in media studies. He wrote and directed the Alpha News documentary "The Fall of Minneapolis."