HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — The man accused of intentionally crashing into the driver's side of a Hillsborough County deputy's cruiser earlier this month will face "the most serious charge in all of Florida law," according to the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office.
Travis Garrett, 28, will be prosecuted for first-degree premeditated murder of a law enforcement officer due to his actions which, they say, led to the death of Master Corporal Brian LaVigne on Jan. 11.
Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said on Friday that the evidence in the death of LaVigne overwhelmingly makes this a first-degree murder case.
“This was a deliberate, intentional attack on law enforcement,” said Warren. “He targeted a cop. It’s that simple.”
Warren has pledged to seek the death penalty in only the rarest, most egregious cases. By law, he has 45 days to make that decision, which is still under consideration in this case.
“When you choose to commit a crime like this - when you choose to cause pain like this, these are the consequences,” said Warren.
Investigators say Garrett intentionally rammed LaVigne’s cruiser as he was being pursued after an incident at a nearby apartment complex in Brandon.
Garrett was not in court for Friday’s hearing. He was still in the hospital with injuries of his own from the crash.
“You know, it’s not hard to figure out that when you’ve been in the hospital for 10 days you have some serious injuries,” said Warren, “Whatever injuries he has does not absolve him from the murder that he committed.”
Warren said his office has been working closely with detectives who, despite their own personal loss, have remained completely focused.
“They’re doing it when it’s their friend who’s been killed. They are consummate professionals and we are going to do everything we can, even though we have a relationship with the victim here, to protect the integrity of the investigation and prosecution,” said Warren. “And to afford the defendant all the rights that he deserves so that we can convict him at the end of the day for murder.”
Under Florida law, the state attorney’s office must seek a grand jury indictment for the first-degree murder charge, but because of the pandemic, grand jury proceedings are currently suspended in Hillsborough county, until at least February 8.
Garrett faces a total of nine felony charges including first-degree premeditated murder. Here are the additional charges the Hillsborough County State Attorney's Office is bringing:
- Fleeing to elude
- Vehicular Homicide
- DUI Manslaughter
- Two counts of battery on a law enforcement officer
- Two counts of resisting officer with violence
- Criminal mischief
A status hearing where investigators will present evidence, asking a judge to hold Garrett without bond, is scheduled for Jan. 25.
LaVigne was one shift away from retirement when he was killed in the line of duty. The 54-year-old had been with the sheriff's office for 30 years and is survived his wife and two adult children; one is a deputy with the sheriff's office.
- Florida surgeon general orders vaccine providers to ensure recipients live in the state
- Senate could get Trump impeachment articles Friday
- How could some of President Biden's top campaign promises impact Florida?
- 10 facts about Kamala Harris, America's history-making vice president
- Third stimulus check: When could you get $1,400 now that Biden is officially the president?
- How to get a COVID-19 vaccine at Publix
►Breaking news and weather alerts: Get the free 10 Tampa Bay app
►Stay In the Know! Sign up now for the Brightside Blend Newsletter