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Man rams into patrol car, kills Florida deputy about to retire

Cpl. Brian LaVigne was set to work his final day on Tuesday

Hillsborough County Cpl. Brian LaVigne, 54, had to be cut out of his cruiser and died at the hospital.
Hillsborough County Cpl. Brian LaVigne, 54, had to be cut out of his cruiser and died at the hospital. (WFTS-TV image)

TAMPA, Fla. – A Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy with one shift left before retirement was intentionally hit and killed by a man fleeing law enforcement, officials said. That man was charged Tuesday with murder and other counts.

Cpl. Brian LaVigne, 54, had spent three decades at the department and was set to work his final day on Tuesday, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said during a Monday night news conference.

Deputies took 28-year-old Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett into custody on Monday night. He was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and eight other charges, according to the sheriff’s office.

“He had never hit the brakes,’' Chronister said. “There were no skid marks. He was intentionally running that car into the corporal’s car.’'

The other charges include DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting arrest with violence, the sheriff’s office said.

“This is one of the most difficult times we have faced as a sheriff’s office, losing one of our family members to such a senseless act of violence,’' Chronister said in a statement Tuesday. ``Our focus remains intent on seeking justice for the murder of Master Corporal LaVigne, and celebrating an individual who devoted his life to public service.’'

Authorities said Garrett was hospitalized Tuesday for undisclosed reasons.

Earlier Monday afternoon, deputies were called to Garrett’s apartment regarding erratic behavior. Garrett had reportedly thrown furniture and clothing off his balcony at an apartment complex in Brandon, near Tampa.

Deputies spoke to Garrett through the door, but since no crime had been committed, they cleared the call, the sheriff said.

A short time later, residents called the sheriff’s office saying Garrett was nude and was throwing food at neighbors, the sheriff said. This time when deputies arrived, Garrett began attacking them, hitting Deputy Michael Durig, Jr. in the head multiple times, officials said.

Multiple attempts to use a Taser on Garrett were unsuccessful, the sheriff said. Garrett then got into a car. The sheriff said Garrett rammed through a back gate and crossed two lanes of traffic to intentionally hit LaVigne’s marked patrol car on the driver side with the front of his car, Chronister said.

Garrett went “as fast as he could make that car go,’' the sheriff said.

The crash scene was so destructive that deputies couldn’t immediately reach LaVigne, who was unresponsive, Chronister said.

“He’s unconscious,’' Chronister said. “They’re doing everything they can, from breaking windows, trying to crawl in from the back window.’'

Firefighters eventually used tools to free him. He was taken to a hospital, but he died from his injuries.

HCSO Corporal dies in the line of duty

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating a fatal accident that claimed the life of one of our own Monday evening. At approximately 3:42 p.m. on January 11, 2021, HCSO received a 911 call from management at Paddock Club Apartments, located at 921 Paddock Club Drive in Brandon. The caller reported that a black male had been throwing property out of his apartment window and front door. The caller also stated that this individual has threatened to harm staff in the past. Deputies spoke to the man through the door, but there was no cause for arrest at the time. Later, at approximately 5:03 p.m., another disturbance is called into HCSO's Communications Bureau. This time, a neighbor called to report that a black male was nude and acting erratically. Again, management from the Paddock Club Apartments called to report the same complaint. When deputies arrived at the scene the second time, they attempted to establish a dialogue with Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett, 28, but were unsuccessful. Garrett then became combative and struck one of the responding deputies, Michael Durig, Jr. multiple times. It was then that the second responding deputy, Adam Pautz, deployed his taser once without success, forcing Deputy Durig to deploy his taser two times, also without success. Garrett fled in his car, while Deputy Durig and Deputy Pautz gave chase. Deputy Pautz tries to block Garrett, however, Garrett is able to get past him and crashes through one of the apartment complex's gated entrances. Garrett continued to flee onto Brandon Parkway, and then westbound onto Lumsden Road, where, according to several witnesses, he intentionally rammed into Master Corporal Brian LaVigne at a high rate of speed. Master Corporal LaVigne was operating his marked HCSO vehicle. Master Corporal LaVigne's fellow deputies worked heroically to try and tend to his injuries, while Hillsborough County Fire Rescue attempted to extricate Master Corporal LaVigne for several minutes. Despite their courageous efforts and those on frontlines at Tampa General Hospital, Master Corporal LaVigne passed away while in the line of duty. "𝗠𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗽𝗼𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗕𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗟𝗮𝗩𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝗯𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗮 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗛𝗶𝗹𝗹𝘀𝗯𝗼𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗻𝘁𝘆 𝗦𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗳𝗳'𝘀 𝗢𝗳𝗳𝗶𝗰𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝗺𝗶𝗹𝘆 𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝟭𝟵𝟵𝟬, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗷𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗱𝗮𝘆𝘀 𝗮𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗿𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁," 𝘀𝗮𝗶𝗱 𝗦𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗳𝗳 𝗖𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗖𝗵𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿. "𝗪𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝗹𝗹 𝗻𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗴𝗲𝘁 𝗠𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗖𝗼𝗿𝗽𝗼𝗿𝗮𝗹 𝗟𝗮𝗩𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗹𝗮𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗱𝗼𝘄𝗻 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗹𝗶𝗳𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗱𝘂𝘁𝘆 𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘀𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗱 𝗺𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝗱𝗶𝗱 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗲𝗻𝘀𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗱𝘂𝗮𝗹 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝗽𝗼𝗻𝘀𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗱𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗵 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗵𝗲𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗱." Master Corporal LaVigne was set to retire this week. He was 54 years old. He is survived by his wife, and two adult children, one of whom is also a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. HCSO is investigating the fatal incident and charges against Garrett are forthcoming. He does not have any arrest history in Hillsborough County, but he was previously Baker Acted in Pasco County.

Posted by Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office on Monday, January 11, 2021

LaVigne was a 30-year veteran with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and was days away from retirement. Chronister said LaVigne had one shift left.

LaVigne is survived by his wife and two children, one of whom is also a deputy at the sheriff’s office.

“You could only imagine the pain they’re going through being only one shift away from retirement,’' Chronister said.