The lawyer for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of killing George Floyd, said Saturday that Chauvin’s family was kept in the dark by federal prison authorities after he was stabbed in prison .
Attorney Gregory M. Erickson called out the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ lack of transparency, a day after his client was stabbed Friday by another inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Ariz., a prison plagued by security breaches. and lack of staff.
A person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Friday that Chauvin suffered serious stab wounds. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the attack. On Saturday, Brian Evans, a spokesman for the Minnesota attorney general’s office, said, “We’ve heard he’s expected to survive.”
Erickson said Chauvin’s family and his lawyers have hit a wall trying to get information about the attack from Bureau of Prisons officials. He said Chauvin’s family had been forced to assume he was in stable condition, based only on news reports, and had contacted the prison several times to ask for updates, but did not had received no information.
“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. “This appears to indicate a poorly managed facility and is indicative of how Derek’s assault could have occurred.”
Erickson’s comments highlight concerns raised for years that federal prison officials provide little or no information to relatives of seriously injured or ill incarcerated people in federal custody. The AP previously reported that the Bureau of Prisons ignored its internal guidelines and failed to notify the families of inmates seriously ill with COVID-19 as the virus raged in federal prisons across the United States.
The issue of notifying families also gave rise to federal legislation introduced last year in the U.S. Senate that would require the Justice Department to establish guidelines for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and state corrections systems to notify families of incarcerated people if their loved one suffers from a serious problem. illness, life-threatening injury or if he dies behind bars.
“The fact that family members who are responsible for Derek’s decisions regarding his personal medical care and emergency contact were not informed after his stabbing also indicates poor procedures at the facility and the lack of institutional control,” Erickson said of the prison.
A Bureau of Prisons spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday evening.
The Bureau of Prisons only confirmed an assault at the Arizona facility and said employees took “life-saving measures” before the inmate was taken to a hospital for further treatment and evaluation. The Bureau of Prisons did not name the victim or provide medical status “for privacy and security reasons.”
Prosecutors who successfully secured a second-degree murder conviction against Chauvin during a 2021 jury trial expressed dismay that he became the target of violence while in federal custody.
Terrence Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, told the AP on Saturday that he wouldn’t want anyone stabbed in prison and that he felt numb when he first heard the news.
“I’m not going to put my energy into anything that happens within those four walls — because my energy was devoted to bringing it within those four walls,” Terrence Floyd said. “Whatever happens within these four walls, I don’t really have any feelings about it.”
Chauvin’s stabbing is the second high-profile attack on a federal prisoner in the past five months. In July, disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar was stabbed by a fellow inmate at a federal penitentiary in Florida.
Chauvin, 47, was sent to FCI Tucson from a maximum security state prison in Minnesota in August 2022 to concurrently serve a 21-year federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights and a 22-year state sentence and a half for second degree murder.
Another lawyer for Chauvin, Eric Nelson, had argued for keeping him away from the general population and other inmates, anticipating that he would become a target. In Minnesota, Chauvin was kept primarily in solitary confinement “largely for his own protection,” Nelson wrote in court papers last year.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Chauvin’s appeal of his murder conviction. Separately, Chauvin is seeking to overturn his federal guilty plea, saying new evidence shows he did not cause Floyd’s death.
Floyd, who was Black, was killed on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes on the street outside a convenience store where Floyd was suspected of trying to kill him. pass a counterfeit $20 bill.
Bystander video captured Floyd’s muffled cries of “I can’t breathe.” His death sparked protests around the world, some of which turned violent, and forced a country to reckon with police brutality and racism.
Three other former officers who were at the scene received lesser sentences at the state and federal level for their roles in Floyd’s death.
Chauvin’s stabbing comes as the Federal Bureau of Prisons has faced increased scrutiny in recent years following the prison suicide of wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2019. It is another example of the agency’s failure to keep even its most high-profile prisoners safe after Nassar’s stabbing and Ted Kaczynski’s “Unabomber.” suicide at a federal medical center in June.
At the federal prison in Tucson in November 2022, an inmate at the facility’s low-security prison camp pulled out a gun and attempted to shoot a visitor in the head. The weapon, which the inmate should not have had, misfired and no one was injured.
An ongoing AP investigation has revealed deep and previously unseen flaws within the Bureau of Prisons, the Justice Department’s largest law enforcement agency, with more than 30,000 employees, 158,000 inmates and a annual budget of approximately $8 billion.
AP reporting revealed widespread sexual abuse and other criminal behavior by staff, dozens of escapes, chronic violence, deaths and severe staffing shortages that hampered emergency responses, notably attacks and suicides of prisoners.
Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters was appointed last year to reform the crisis-plagued agency. She pledged to change archaic hiring practices and bring new transparency, while emphasizing that the agency’s mission is “to make good neighbors, not good inmates.”