TAMPA — The husky, naked man came lumbering through the apartment breezeway clad only in sandals, stepping past broken glass and down a cement walkway as he ignored approaching sheriff’s deputies.
In videos, Travis Zachary Garrett carries a backpack, a dark satchel strapped across his bare chest. He opens the trunk on a silver Nissan and places items in it. He raises a cell phone, smiles, and snaps a selfie.
Moments later, as he slips into the driver’s seat, a deputy grabs his arm. A scuffle ensues.
Garrett lunges at the deputies, then falls to the concrete, losing one sandal as he endures a jolt from a Taser, which has no effect. He gets up and heads back to the car.
“God bless you,” he says amid the melee. “I love you.”
In court Monday, Tampa prosecutors played a series of body-worn camera videos that documented the interaction Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies had with Garrett minutes before they say he intentionally rammed his car into a patrol cruiser, killing Cpl. Brian LaVigne. The videos were played in a hearing at which prosecutors asked that Garrett be detained without bail until he can face trial.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Catherine Catlin ordered Garrett held without bond on a murder charge.
Garrett, 28, was still hospitalized Monday, two weeks after the deadly collision. His attorney waived his appearance in court.
The Jan. 11 call was reported as a disturbance at the Paddock Club apartments in Brandon. It was the second time that day deputies were called by people concerned about Garrett’s behavior. The first time, someone reported he had smashed a glass outside the apartment. When a deputy arrived and called to him through a doorway, he made an obscene comment and stayed inside.
Deputies Adam Pautz and Michael Durig arrived later that day. Apartment managers told them that Garrett had been tossing items out of the apartment and was walking around naked.
After Garrett fought with the deputies, he got back in the car and sped off. Pautz got into a patrol car and chased the Nissan as it wound through the complex and smashed through an iron exit gate.
A third video, from a camera worn by Deputy Eric Leshick, depicts the tense moments inside his own patrol car as he assists in a pursuit of Garrett. As a pair of hands spin a steering wheel, there is the growl of a motor over the words of a dispatcher who describes a silver Nissan.
Leshick testified that he attempted to block traffic on Brandon Parkway before the Nissan sped past him, turning west on Lumsden Road.
In the video, Leshick’s car keeps moving, before he yells: “He’s aiming for your car! Get out of the way!”
The front ends of both cars were crushed. Pautz testified that he ran to LaVigne’s car. The corporal was slumped in the driver’s seat. Pautz got into the back seat. He said LaVigne took “agonal breaths.” He asked if he was OK, but got no response. Fellow deputies tried to open doors and get in through windows.
Rescue workers later pried LaVigne from the vehicle. He was taken to Tampa General Hospital, where he was declared dead.
A 30-year cop, he was a shift away from retirement. He posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.
A crash investigator testified that data taken from the Nissan showed it was moving a 76 mph, with the accelerator fully depressed, when the collision occurred. The speed limit on Lumsden Road is 45 mph.
Deputies found Garrett sprawled inside the Nissan. He told them that he is a veteran.
In the car, they later found a jar full of marijuana, deputies testified. They also found a knife in a sheath in the center console.
Medical tests indicated that Garrett had both marijuana and cocaine in his blood, according to court records. He told a deputy at the hospital that he takes medication for anxiety.
A Hillsborough sheriff’s detective testified that Garrett’s father reported his son is disabled, with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. The detective said Garrett’s father told him his son had “fallen off the edge” since the beginning of the year. He was spending all his money and arguing with his girlfriend.
On Jan. 10, the day before the crash, she phoned deputies with concerns about his behavior. When they arrived, Garrett was irate and yelling, the detective testified.
He recorded a video, which was later posted to Instagram.
“God bless these officers,” he says. “Whoever they serve, may they never, ever catch a bullet to the face.”
The office of Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren announced last week that they would ask a grand jury to formally charge Garrett with premeditated first-degree murder.
“The evidence showed that he chose to do this,” Warren said. “It was not an accident. He chose to attack and kill a police officer.”
Grand jury proceedings in Hillsborough County are suspended until Feb. 8 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The murder charge could carry a death sentence, though Warren’s office has yet to decide if they will seek capital punishment in the case. Florida court rules give prosecutors 45 days from the date of an arraignment to make that decision.