Brandon, Florida – Hillsborough County Corporal Brian LaVigne was killed Monday when a man fleeing from deputies intentionally crashed into the driver’s side of his police car.
LaVigne was 54 years old and had one more day to work before his retirement.
The deputy had served the department for 30 years. He leaves behind his wife and two adult children. One of them is also a deputy with the agency, 10 Tampa Bay reports.
LaVigne was known as a man that was dedicated to his family and was constantly mentoring younger members of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
It is with great sadness that I convey this heartbreaking news, Master Corporal Brian LaVigne was killed in the line of duty earlier tonight. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and all of Team HCSO as we mourn his loss. pic.twitter.com/Q1zWCkzEM7
— Chad Chronister (@ChadChronister) January 12, 2021
“You can imagine the heartache that the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is experiencing right now,” Chronister said.
On Monday afternoon, deputies responded to an apartment complex after reports that a man was throwing items off his balcony.
After a crime was not identified, the deputies left and were called back at 5 p.m. after the same man, identified as 28-year-old Travis Garrett, was naked and throwing cookies at neighbors.
Garrett became combative and hit a deputy in the head with enough force that he fell to the ground. Another deputy then deployed his Taser, but it was ineffective.
Deputies called for backup as Garrett got into his car and tried to get away.
The suspsect rammed through the back gate of the complex and eventually ended up going westbound on Lumsden Road.
“Corporal LaVigne was in the area, he was actually in the turn lane where he could make a turn onto Lumsden Boulevard,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “This individual, Mr. Garrett, is traveling at a high rate of speed. Mr. Garrett intentionally switches two lanes and goes off into the turn lane to strike Corporal LaVigne’s vehicle.”
Garrett went “as fast as he could make that car go,” hitting the driver’s side of LaVigine’s cruiser, Chronister continued. The crash was said to be destructive enough that responding deputies could not immediately get LaVigine out.
“He’s unconscious,” Chronister said. “They’re doing everything they can, from breaking windows, trying to crawl in from the back window.”
Firefighters, using the Jaws of Life, eventually were able to free Lavigne.
He was taken to Tampa General Hospital where he died from his injuries.
Several charges are pending against Garrett, likely including battery on a law enforcement officer, aggravated fleeing and alluding and others for LaVigne’s death, the sheriff said.
Corporal LaVignen had received numerous commendations during his career including a Medal of Valor, MADD Law Enforcement Officer of the Year and two life-saving awards.
He had been awarded the Distinguished Citizen Medal which recognizes a First responder or military member who achieves the qualities of honor, service, courage, leadership and patriotism.
He volunteered as a youth soccer coach and was a current volunteer at Gracie Fishhawk Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teaching self-defense. He was a self-taught, certified Spanish translator.