A federal inmate was charged Friday with attempted murder in the prison stabbing of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd.John Turscak stabbed Chauvin 22 times in the law library at the Federal Correctional Institution in Tucson, Arizona, with an improvised knife, federal prosecutors said. Turscak, 52, told correctional officers he would’ve killed Chauvin had they not responded so quickly, prosecutors said.Turscak later told FBI agents that he’d been thinking about assaulting Chauvin for about a month because he is a high-profile inmate but denied wanting to kill him, prosecutors said.Turscak told the agents that he attacked Chauvin on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, as a symbolic connection to the Black Lives Matter movement and the “Black Hand” symbol associated with the Mexican Mafia gang, prosecutors said.An attorney for Turscak was not listed in court records and Turscak, who has represented himself in numerous court matters from prison, remained in custody on Friday.Chauvin, 47, was sent to FCI Tucson from a maximum-security Minnesota state prison in August 2022 to simultaneously serve a 21-year federal sentence for violating Floyd’s civil rights and a 22½-year state sentence for second-degree murder.Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, had advocated for keeping him out of general population and away from other inmates, anticipating he’d be a target. In Minnesota, Chauvin was mainly kept in solitary confinement “largely for his own protection,” Nelson wrote in court papers last year.Floyd, who was Black, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on his neck for 9½ minutes on the street outside a convenience store where Floyd was suspected of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.Bystander video captured Floyd’s fading cries of “I can’t breathe.” His death touched off protests worldwide, some of which turned violent, and forced a national reckoning with police brutality and racism.
WICHITA, Kan. — The family of a 22-year-old woman who died in an apartment fire in Kansas’ largest city after mistakes by the 911 dispatch center believes the center has “systemic issues,” and the local firefighters union is calling for an independent investigation.Paoly Bedeski’s family in Wichita issued a statement Thursday, The Wichita Eagle reported. It was the family’s first since the fatal fire and it came two days after the city firefighters union held a news conference to detail “significant and devastating” errors by the dispatch center in Sedgwick County, where the city is located.The dispatch center failed to relay the number of Bedeski’s third-floor apartment to firefighters and waited 17 minutes to sound a second alarm to bring more crews to the scene. Bedeski called 911 just before 4 a.m. on Oct. 13 to report her apartment was on fire.County officials said they are still gathering information and expect to have an advisory board review the details next week. But local firefighters union President Ted Bush has said publicly that the dispatch center’s mistakes delayed the response to the fire and prevented Bedeski’s rescue, and the Sedgwick County Commission said it also supports an independent review.The family’s statement, issued by its lawyer, said, “These failures cost Paoly her life.”“The Bedeskis are now calling for immediate correction of these systemic issues and accountability for those responsible, emphasizing the need for adequate protection for the county’s residents,” the statement said.Elora Forshee, director of Sedgwick County Emergency Communications, has said Bedeski’s call was not intelligible enough for the dispatcher to understand that she was trapped.Audio from the call, posted online by The Eagle, showed that much of the first 50 seconds of the call from a terrified-sounding Bedeski was hard to understand. However, she clearly stated the name of her apartment complex and her apartment number after being asked by the dispatcher to repeat herself.Bedeski’s voice is not heard after the first 50 seconds of the four-plus minutes of audio. About 45 seconds after last hearing her voice, the dispatcher says, “Hello? I need you to say your apartment number clearly and distinctly.”He then reports the blaze to firefighters, with the address of the apartment complex but not the apartment number.As for the delay in sounding a second alarm, Forshee said the issue was “addressed on the spot” with additional training.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Five former correctional officers in West Virginia were indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday in connection with the 2022 death of an incarcerated man who was beaten while handcuffed and restrained in an interview room and later a jail cell. All five officers, as well as a former lieutenant, are also charged with trying to cover up their actions, the U.S. Justice Department said. The indictments in West Virginia’s southern U.S. District Court come weeks after two different West Virginia corrections officers pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge stemming from the fatal beating of the same inmate, 37-year-old Quantez Burks. Burks was a pretrial detainee at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver who died less than a day after he was booked into the jail on a wanton endangerment charge in March 2022.The case has drawn scrutiny to conditions and deaths at the Southern Regional Jail. Earlier this month, West Virginia agreed to pay $4 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by inmates who described conditions at the jail as inhumane. The lawsuit filed last year on behalf of current and former inmates cited such complaints as a lack of access to water and food at the facility, as well as overcrowding and fights that were allowed to continue until someone was injured.Gov. Jim Justice’s administration fired former Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation Executive Officer Brad Douglas and Homeland Security Chief Counsel Phil Sword after a federal magistrate judge cited the “intentional” destruction of records in recommending a default judgment in the lawsuit. That followed a hearing in early October in which former and current corrections officials, including some defendants in the lawsuit, said no steps had been taken to preserve evidence at the jail, including emails and documents.The indictment handed up Thursday alleges that three former Southern Regional Jail correctional officers — 39-year-old Mark Holdren, 29-year-old Cory Snyder and 35-year-old Johnathan Walters — conspired with other officers at the jail to unlawfully beat Burks in an act of retaliation. According to court documents, Burks tried to push past an officer to leave his housing unit. Burks then was escorted to an interview room where correctional officers are accused of striking Burks while he was restrained and handcuffed. He was later forcibly moved to a prison cell in another housing unit, where he was assaulted again. On Nov. 2, former officers Andrew Fleshman and Steven Wimmer pled guilty to a felony conspiracy charge stemming from the fatal beating. Their sentencings have been set for Feb. 22.The state medical examiner’s office attributed Burks’ primary cause of death to natural causes, prompting the family to have a private autopsy conducted. The family’s attorney revealed at a news conference last year that the second autopsy found the inmate had multiple areas of blunt force trauma on his body.Two other former corrections officers were indicted Thursday on a charge of failing to intervene in the unlawful assault, resulting in Burks’ death. All five officers, as well as a former lieutenant, are charged with covering up the use of unlawful force by omitting material information and providing false and misleading information to investigators. The Associated Press reached out to the state corrections agency for comment Thursday, but did not immediately hear back. Contact information for the indicted officers was not immediately available. Walters, Holdren and another officer submitted incident reports that contained false and misleading information, the indictment alleges. The indictment also charges Holdren, Snyder, and two other officers with making false statements to the FBI.
Two Nevada state troopers have died after they were struck by a vehicle while helping another driverByThe Associated PressNovember 30, 2023, 11:55 AMLAS VEGAS — Two Nevada state troopers died Thursday after they were struck by a vehicle while helping another driver, authorities said.Las Vegas police, who will be investigating the collision, planned to hold a media briefing at their headquarters later Thursday.According to police, the two troopers were “conducting a motorist assist” early this morning on the I-15 freeway when they were struck.The slain troopers’ names have not been released. It is unclear whether the driver who struck the troopers has been arrested.