2020 Trooper of the Year
Trooper Curtis Vaughn
Florida Highway Patrol
On April 28, 2019, Trooper Curtis Vaughn displayed outstanding courage and gallantry in the face of being fired upon by a suspect during a high-speed pursuit.
Vaughn became involved in the pursuit of a stolen F250 pickup after the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office requested the Florida Highway Patrol’s (FHP) assistance. The suspect had committed aggravated assault with a motor vehicle upon multiple Citrus County Deputies.
Upon becoming directly involved in the pursuit, Vaughn assumed the primary position as another Trooper handled radio communications. It was apparent from the beginning of FHP’s involvement the suspect driver was familiar with the pursuit tactics used by the Florida Highway Patrol. (It was later discovered that the subject had been involved in a pursuit in January where an FHP member performed a PIT maneuver on his vehicle and ended the pursuit.) The F250 pickup was much heavier than the patrol unit being operated by Vaughn. Several attempts to PIT the vehicle proved unsuccessful due to this weight advantage. The suspect pointed a firearm in the direction of Trooper Vaughn. The suspect fired at least 3 rounds through the rear window of the suspect vehicle. One round struck and shattered the front windshield of the trooper following Trooper Vaughn. Rather than back off from the obvious danger, Vaughn increased his efforts to end the pursuit by driving directly behind the suspect vehicle in an effort to perform a PIT maneuver. The suspect continued his attempts to block any effective measures to end the pursuit. With full knowledge the suspect had fired at him, Vaughn closed the distance between the two vehicles and was able to hook the rear hitch of a much heavier vehicle and cause the vehicle to rotate. The vehicle rotated to the right and overturned, thus ending the pursuit. The suspect was immediately taken into custody.
Trooper Vaughn while being shot at, made the personal decision to close with and engage the suspect, disregarding his own personal safety to end an active threat to the safety of others.