Monday, July 15, 2024

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of murdering George Floyd during a 2020 arrest that set off a wave of protests, was stabbed at a federal prison in Tucson, Ariz., on Friday, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed that an inmate at the Tucson prison was stabbed at 12:30 p.m., though the agency’s statement did not identify Mr. Chauvin, 47, by name. No other inmates or prison staff were injured, and the situation was quickly contained, according to the people familiar with the situation.

Emergency medical technicians “initiated lifesaving measures” before transporting the inmate to a local hospital “for further treatment and evaluation,” bureau officials wrote. No details were immediately available on his condition, but one of the people with knowledge of the incident said that Mr. Chauvin survived the attack.

Mr. Chauvin was serving a sentence of just over two decades in federal prison after he was convicted of state murder charges and a federal charge of violating the constitutional rights of Mr. Floyd. Mr. Chauvin’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Chauvin, who is white, had knelt on Mr. Floyd, who was Black, for nine and a half minutes in May 2020 as Mr. Floyd lay handcuffed, face down, on a South Minneapolis street corner. The killing of Mr. Floyd, 46, a security guard and former rapper, was captured on video by a teenager, and the footage ricocheted around the world while people were isolating amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The killing set off the largest protests of a generation, against police violence and racism, and led to a high-profile, televised trial in which Mr. Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder in April 2021. Three other officers who were at the scene where Mr. Floyd was killed were also later convicted of violating Mr. Floyd’s rights.

Mr. Chauvin had sought to appeal his conviction, but as recently as this week, the Supreme Court had rejected his efforts.

Part of Mr. Chauvin’s plea deal with prosecutors in his federal case was that he would be allowed to serve his sentence in a federal prison, which is generally considered safer than a state prison. Before that, Mr. Chauvin had been serving his state sentence in solitary confinement for 23 hours each day in Minnesota. A spokeswoman for the state prison system said at the time that Mr. Chauvin had been isolated because of concerns for his safety.

There have been several other high-profile attacks on federal prisoners in recent years, including the stabbing earlier this year of Larry Nassar, who had been convicted of sexually abusing young gymnasts, and the killing in 2018 of James (Whitey) Bulger, the mobster who was murdered in a West Virginia prison.

The Associated Press was the first to report the stabbing of Mr. Chauvin on Friday.

The Bureau of Prisons has been grappling with a widespread shortage of corrections officers and has relied on teachers, case managers, counselors, facilities workers and secretaries to fill shifts.

About 21 percent of the 20,446 positions for corrections officers funded by Congress — amounting to 4,293 guards — were unfilled in September 2022, according to a report in March 2023 by the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office.

On May 25, 2020, Mr. Chauvin and three other officers with the Minneapolis Police Department drove to a corner store after a store employee had called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had bought cigarettes with a fake $20 bill.

One officer arrived to the scene with his gun drawn, and, minutes later, the police pulled Mr. Floyd out of a car. Mr. Chauvin and two other officers eventually pinned him to the pavement, where a bystander’s video captured him begging for air, saying he couldn’t breathe, as Mr. Chauvin knelt on his neck.

As Mr. Chauvin kept Mr. Floyd pinned down, bystanders yelled at the police officers to ease up. The chief medical examiner in Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, ultimately determined that Mr. Floyd’s heart and lungs stopped functioning while the police were restraining him.

A paramedic testified at trial that by the time he arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd did not have a pulse and appeared to already be dead. The paramedic, Derek Smith, testified that he and other emergency medical workers used a device to try to restart Mr. Floyd’s heart, but that nothing worked. Ultimately, Mr. Floyd was pronounced dead at a hospital a little over an hour after the police had approached him.

In April 2021, after three weeks of trial testimony, jurors deliberated for about 10 hours before convicting Mr. Chauvin of all of the counts he faced in the state case. Judge Peter A. Cahill sentenced him to 22 and a half years in prison.

At Mr. Chauvin’s sentencing in June 2021, his mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, said that her son was a good man who had been wrongly depicted as racist. She argued that he was not guilty of murdering Mr. Floyd.

“The public will never know the loving and caring man he is,” Ms. Pawlenty said. “But his family does.”

A little over a year later, a federal judge sentenced Mr. Chauvin to serve 21 years in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to violating Mr. Floyd’s constitutional rights by using excess force under the color of law.

Tim Arango and Julie Bosman contributed reporting.

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