A Florida deputy who had one shift left until his retirement was killed on the job after a man crashed into his police cruiser while fleeing law enforcement, officials said.
Cpl. Brian LaVigne, 54, had spent three decades working at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department and was scheduled to work his final shift on Tuesday, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister announced Monday night.
Deputies arrested Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett, 28, Monday night and charged him on 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 included DUI manslaughter, battery on a law enforcement officer, vehicular manslaughter, and resisting arrest with violence, according to the sheriff’s office.
“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.”
Garrett was admitted to the hospital Tuesday for an undisclosed reason, authorities said.
Earlier Monday afternoon, deputies responded to an incident at Garrett’s apartment regarding reports of erratic behavior.
Garrett had reportedly tossed clothing and furniture off his apartment’s balcony at his residence in Brandon, Florida.
Deputies spoke to Garrett through his apartment door, but eventually left because he had committed no crime.
Residents called the sheriff’s office not too long after the first call saying that Garrett was throwing food at neighbors while naked.
Once deputies arrived, Garrett began attacking them, hitting one of the deputies in the head several times, officials said.
Garrett then got into a car, rammed through a back gate, and crossed two lanes of traffic to hit LaVigne’s cruiser on the driver’s side using the front of his car, Chronister said.
Firefighters eventually freed LaVigne from the crash scene, which was so destructive that deputies could not reach him at first. LaVigne was unconscious and died from his injuries at a local hospital.
LaVigne is survived by two children, one of whom is a deputy at the sheriff’s office, and his wife.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis released a tweeted statement acknowledging LaVigne’s passing, saying that “our prayers are with his family”:
.@FLCaseyDeSantis & I are saddened to learn of the passing of Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, who was killed in the line of duty. He served our state with distinction & the perpetrator must be brought to justice. Our prayers are with his family & the entire @HCSOSheriff family. https://t.co/xP6UaBJ4UR
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) January 12, 2021