EXCLUSIVE: Derek Chauvin still fighting convictions despite stabbing, solitary confinement 

Derek Chauvin and his mother speak out about "the ugly part"

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin speaks in court in 2020. (YouTube/screenshot)

Even though he is still recovering from a near-fatal stabbing, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is seeking legal help while confined to solitary medical confinement in a federal prison facility.

“There was no question he was trying to kill him. It was more serious than anyone knew,” Carolyn Pawlenty said of the violent attack on her son in the prison law library at the facility in Tucson, Ariz., on Nov. 24, 2023.

After taking a trip to see her son earlier this month, Pawlenty told Alpha News, “Derek thought he was going to die. He thought he’d never see his family again.”

A former FBI informant, John Turscak, 52, has been charged with attempted murder, assault with intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.

Chauvin survived the vicious attack, but has since had surgeries and blood transfusions and now walks with a limp.

“When I walked in, I was alarmed. He lost weight and looked so pale,” Pawlenty said. “There is no window and no light coming in.” She further explained that Chauvin is kept inside his room 24 hours a day except for the few times they’ve taken him outside while shackled the entire time.

But this wasn’t the only alarming surprise in this case. Chauvin’s family learned of the stabbing from a media report. Making matters worse, Attorney General Keith Ellison — who led the prosecution against Chauvin — was apparently contacted about his condition before the family.

His mother said Chauvin remained hospitalized after the attack, went to a rehabilitation center for a few days and ever since has remained in a room in the medical unit of the prison.

Before the attack, Chauvin was allowed in general population with access to TV, email, the law library and was allowed to exercise outside. But since the stabbing, he no longer has access to these resources. Before he was allowed a 10-minute phone call per day — now it’s just one call a week.

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

Aside from these limitations, his injuries and limited access to legal resources could not have come at a worse time. Chauvin was stabbed about a week after the documentary “The Fall of Minneapolis” was released.

The documentary has been viewed more than seven million times. Since then, Pawlenty said her son has received letters of support from around the world, signaling a change in public opinion about the death of George Floyd portrayed by mainstream media.

Many people believed Chauvin was guilty in the court of public opinion long before the trial. However, the documentary offers a re-examination of the facts, casting reasonable doubt about the claims made by politicians and the media. More importantly, the documentary essentially forces people to review the facts and evidence for themselves.

Pawlenty explained how more than a few letters tell how people first thought he was guilty, “but after watching the documentary, they feel they were dealt a pack of lies.”

While public opinion has perhaps shifted in Chauvin’s favor, his situation has not. Pawlenty says she is deeply concerned about the lack of information about the attack, along with her son’s medical condition, and where and when he may be moved next. She also worries about his emotional state.

“I do call every single day, a number of times a day. Sometimes there is no one that answers the phone. I ask for the warden, his case worker, or his unit manager. They put me through to their voicemails. I leave messages and no one has ever called me back. Never.”

Despite all of the challenges, Chauvin said he continues to fight for his right to a “fair trial.” A federal judge granted him more time to prepare an appeal to vacate his federal civil rights conviction in the death of George Floyd, however, the clock is ticking.

In a court filing last month, Chauvin stated:

“There are additional exhibits defendant seeks to submit, including but not limited to an expert letter from Dr. Thomas Dunne of Texas, and portions of ‘The Fall of Minneapolis,’” the handwritten letter reads.

In an exclusive interview — the only interview Chauvin has granted since the stabbing — he explained that while more of the truth has come to light, more than a few people “don’t want the ugly truth to be seen — I’m the ugly part.”

Chauvin was also concerned about getting a fair chance or basic legal assistance: “Now I have even fewer resources and no way to reach out to attorneys.”

Although the U.S. Supreme Court recently declined to hear his appeal on his state conviction, Chauvin remains committed to getting a fair and impartial (re-)trial for himself and the other officers, which is a right granted to every American under the Constitution.

The motion also states how Chauvin “cannot do anything in his current incapacitated state.”

His mother shares the concern: “Derek needs more legal help, someone with federal experience. He needs to get out of the medical unit. He just needs help,” Pawlenty said.


Liz Collin

Liz Collin has been a truth-teller for 20 years as a multi-Emmy-Award-winning reporter and anchor. Liz is a Worthington, Minnesota native who lives in the suburbs with her husband, son and loyal lab.