In Tuscaloosa, Alabama last night yet another officer was murdered in the line of duty.
Officer Dornell Cousette was shot in the face shortly before 6:30 p.m. last night.
It happened at Short 17th Street and 33rd Avenue, said Tuscaloosa police spokeswoman Lt. Teena Richardson. That location is in a neighborhood in the western part of the city.
The officer was rushed to DCH Regional Medical Center – despite the best efforts of doctors, they were unable to save him.
Richardson said no other information was being released at this time.
Authorities said a suspect is in custody.
“Our thoughts and prayers tonight remain with this Tuscaloosa PD Officer who was yet another victim of violence against law enforcement while in the line and now fights for his life,” tweeted Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Jay Town. “We hold vigil for him, his family, and all of TPD.”
Maddox started the press conference defining what heroes look like, choking back tears.
“Heroes come in many different forms. We see them every Saturday on the field at Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa is home to the University of Alabama), or as we follow our favorite football or basketball teams and we get a chance to see what they can do. We see heroes on the big screen, with actors portraying roles that are heroic, and strong, and inspire. We often take the heroes around us for granted. We think they are invincible. Here, our heroes wear the uniform of the Tuscaloosa Police Department. Tonight, one of our heroes has died in the line of duty.”
Dornell Cousette was a 40-year-old who served 13 years with the department. Tuscaloosa Interim Police Chief Mitt Tubbs said the investigator had received a tip that a suspect wanted on outstanding warrants for failure to appear on felony crimes was at the residents. When Cousette got to the home at 6:23 p.m., he saw the suspect on the front porch, who then ran inside.
WBRC reported that Cousette followed the suspect and an exchange of gunfire ensued. Both Cousette and the unidentified suspect were wounded, Tubbs said. Cousette, shot in the face area, was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center. He was pronounced dead a short time later. The condition of the suspect has not been released. A bail bondsman was also at the scene when the shooting took place.
“It’s terribly difficult,” Tubbs said. “Every time you hear the phone ring, you just hope it’s not this call. And unfortunately, today it was this call. We are a family, and it’s very difficult to take.”
The officer, a U.S. Army veteran who joined the force in 2006, is the fourth to die in Alabama this year. Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carterwas killed Jan. 13, Mobile Police Officer Sean Tuderwas killed Jan. 20 and Auburn Police Officer William Buechnerwas killed May 19.
According to AL.com, in addition to the deaths of Carter, Tuder and Buechner, at least five other officers have been injured by gunfire. In the Birmingham shooting that killed Carter, Officer Luke Allums was critically wounded and hospitalized for nine days. He has since returned to work.
Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans? It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice. Check it out today.
Two Auburn officers, Webb Sistrunk and Evan Elliott, were injured in the May incident that killed Buechner. Another Auburn officer, Justin Sanders, was shot and wounded in February. Officers Sanders, Sistrunk and Elliott continue to recover but have not returned to work at this time, according to Auburn police.
Birmingham police Officer Cullen Stafford was shot between five to seven times in a downtown shootout last week. He was recently released from the hospital but has a lengthy road to recovery.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, the officer is the department’s 12th to die in the line of duty, eight of those by gunfire. The last Tuscaloosa police officer killed in a shooting was Officer John Charles Thomas on Dec. 10, 1972.
As of July 23, there had been at least 10 other officer-involved shootings statewide that left three suspects dead and seven injured in the first six months of the year. Those incidents have taken place in Gardendale, Madison, Fort Payne, Birmingham, Brent, Huntsville, and Gadsden, according to Gun Violence Archive.
“The violence that law enforcement faces is a significant issue, but it is also a reflection of a rise in violent crime being felt across the nation,’’ Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall told AL.com. “Alabama has already lost three police officers to hostile fire during 2019, the greatest amount due to gunfire in a single year in our state since 2009.”
In July, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith talked about the rise in attacks.
“This year Alabama has seen an uptick in officer deaths and injuries, specifically related to gun violence,’’ he said.
Smith said we’ve lost context.
“Guns have become so prevalent in society that some people have taken for granted the devastation one person can cause due to improper use (shooting in the air), gun violence (simple disputes becoming deadly) or when guns are illegally obtained and this person is approached by an officer, simply knowing what to do.”
Cousette was a father of two daughters and engaged to be married.
“He was a great officer. Everybody loved him,” Tubbs said. “You can tell by the number of people who arrived at the hospital when we got the news. He was well thought of throughout the department and he was a hero. He was a hero.”