Police Corporal Killed During Chase Just Days Before He Was Set to Retire

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
January 12, 2021US News
Police Corporal Killed During Chase Just Days Before He Was Set to Retire
Police investigate a crime scene in Florida in a file photo. (Tori Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat via AP)

A veteran Florida-area corporal was killed in the line of duty on Monday after a suspect allegedly intentionally crashed his cruiser into the deputies’ patrol vehicle during a chase, authorities said.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, 54, was part of the force since 1990 and was set to retire this week after over 30 years of service, according to an HCSO press release.

“It is with great sadness that I convey this heartbreaking news, Master Corporal Brian LaVigne was killed in the line of duty earlier tonight,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said on Twitter. “My thoughts and prayers are with his family and all of Team HCSO as we mourn his loss.”

“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,” Chronister said during Monday’s briefing.

According to the HSCO statement, dispatchers received multiple disturbance calls Monday afternoon from the Paddock Club Apartments in Brandon to report a black male “acting erratically.”

The first call was at about 3:40 p.m. after the suspect, who has been identified as 28-year-old Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett, was allegedly “throwing property out of his apartment window and front door” and had “threatened to harm staff in the past,” police said in the release. Authorities responded to the disturbance and talked with Garrett, but found no cause for arrest at the time.

Dispatchers received a second call from the same location at around 5 p.m. that same afternoon to report Garrett was naked and “acting erratically,” the release states.

Officers responded to the disturbance and tried to communicate with the suspect during their second visit but Garrett was allegedly “unresponsive” and “became combative and struck one of the responding deputies,” identified as Michael Durig Jr., multiple times “in the head with such force that it knocked the deputy on the ground.”

A second deputy assisting Durig responded to the assault by deploying his stun gun once, but it was ineffective. Durig then also deployed his stun gun twice, also without success.

Garrett escaped the scene after deputies deployed their stun guns by fleeing into his car, prompting a police chase. Officers tried to block the suspect’s cruiser, but he managed to get past them, ramming “through one of the apartment complex’s gated entrances,” police said.

The release stated that several witnesses saw Garrett intentionally switching over two lanes before ramming into LaVigne’s patrol vehicle at a “high rate of speed” as he attempted to continue fleeing from deputies onto Brandon Parkway and then westbound onto Lumsden Road. The impact left LaVigne unconscious and trapped in the police vehicle.

NTD Photo
The location where Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Master Corporal Brian LaVigne, 54, was killed during a police chase on Jan. 11, 2020, in Florida. (Google/CNN)

HCSO deputies “worked heroically” to tend to LaVigne’s injuries while Hillsborough County Fire Rescue attempted to extricate him 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,” the release states.

Garrett was taken to a local hospital as well, FOX13 Tamba Bay reported, adding that charges against him are forthcoming. Police said Garrett doesn’t have a prior criminal record in Hillsborough County, but he was taken into custody under the Baker Act in Pasco County in the past.

LaVigne is survived by his wife and two children, one of whom is also a deputy with the HCSO.

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