Family of Derek Chauvin given ‘zero’ updates in wake of federal prison attack, attorney says
An attorney for Derek Chauvin on Sunday said his office and Chauvin’s family have been given “zero” information from federal officials since the former Minneapolis Police officer was stabbed in prison on Friday.
Between Minneapolis Attorney Greg Erickson’s office and the family, they’ve tried reaching out to the Federal Bureau of Prisons “about 15 times,” Erickson said.
Chauvin was in stable condition and expected to survive, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office and Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara confirmed on Saturday. That information was not relayed to Chauvin’s family or attorneys, Erickson said.
The Bureau of Prisons has emergency contacts on record for Chauvin as well, and they were never called, the attorney continued, adding, “I just think that the procedures that this facility is using are fatally flawed…”
Erickson was not the only lawyer who called the incident and how it’s been handled a “complete failure.”
With details from federal officials still sparse on Sunday, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS turned to a couple of independent legal experts.
“I want to be clear on this point: The fact that Derek Chauvin was stabbed is a failure of the system,” said St. Paul defense attorney and Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist Jack Rice.
“The bottom line,” according to former Hennepin County District Court Judge Kevin Burke, is “Prisons cannot be allowed to be dangerous places where people are either seriously injured or murdered.”
“And it would appear that at least the federal system has severe shortages of guards to keep it a safe place,” Judge Burke continued.
Chauvin was moved to the medium-security federal prison in Tucson, Arizona in the summer of 2022 after spending the first fraction of his more than two-decade sentence mainly in solitary confinement at Minnesota’s Oak Park Heights maximum-security prison.
“It should have been safer,” Rice reacted. “It wasn’t.”
Chauvin was not being housed in the prison’s general population at the time of the assault, Erickson said on Sunday. Beyond that, Erickson said he’s been stonewalled by federal officials, unable to get answers about where the assault happened or whether Chauvin remained in the hospital or not as of Sunday afternoon.
Federal Correctional Institution, Tucson has been plagued by security lapses and staffing shortages, the Associated Press has reported. The assault that left Chauvin seriously hurt was the second major incident in a little over a year.
“We can also look back just five months ago with [Larry] Nasser down in Florida,” Rice pointed out.
The disgraced former sports doctor was another high-profile inmate to survive being stabbed in a federal prison facility dealing with staffing shortages.
“We definitely know, there are assaults that happen in state and federal prisons with a degree of frequency that’s really not tolerable,” Burke said, adding, “That’s true for guards” as well.
“We’ve seen guards attacked here in Minnesota. That’s totally unacceptable, and we need to adequately fund prisons so it doesn’t happen again.”
“The fact that it happened to Derek Chauvin himself, again, doesn’t deny the problem that we face here,” Rice agreed. “Because when people are convicted of crimes and sent to prison, we have a societal obligation to make sure that they’re kept safe.”