A police officer has been killed in the line of duty just one day away from retirement when a suspect intentionally crashed into his police cruiser.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) in Florida said that the incident occurred at approximately 3:42 p.m. on Jan. 11 when authorities received a report from the Paddock Club Apartments in Brandon, Florida, that a man had been “throwing property out of his apartment window and front door” and that the individual had allegedly threatened to harm himself in the past.
However, when deputies arrived, they spoke to the man in question through the door and determined that there was no cause to arrest the individual at the time.
Another call was made about 90 minutes later at 5:03 p.m. reporting another disturbance and that the same man was now nude and acting erratically.
HCSO deputies subsequently arrived to the apartments for a second time but when authorities tried to establish a dialogue with the man, later identified as 28-year-old Travis Zachary Gabriel Garrett, he turned combative and struck responding officer 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,” the HCSO said in a statement.
Garrett then reportedly jumped into his vehicle and fled the scene while Deputy Durig and Deputy Pautz chased the suspect before he crashed through a gated entrance to the apartment complex and made his way onto Brandon Parkway where the high speed pursuit was picked up by 54-year-old Master Corporal Brian LaVigne.
“According to several witnesses, [Garrett] intentionally rammed into Master Corporal Brian LaVigne at a high rate of speed,” HCSO confirmed. “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.”
In a press conference on Monday evening, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Connister said that LaVigne, who had spent more than 30 years in law enforcement, was just one day away from retirement and was due to work one final shift on Jan. 13 before retiring.
"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 Sherriff Chad Connister. 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."
The HCSO is investigating the fatal incident and authorities have confirmed that charges against Garrett are forthcoming.
LaVigne is survived by his wife and two adult children, one of whom is also a deputy with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.