TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – A veteran Tuscaloosa police officer in foot pursuit of a wanted felon was shot to death Monday night.
“Heroes come in many different forms,” said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox. “Tonight, one of our heroes has died in the line of duty.”
The officer was identified as Dornell Cousette, 40. The veteran Tuscaloosa officer served 13 years with the department, reported AL.com.
Tuscaloosa Interim Police Chief Mitt Tubbs said Cousette had received a tip a suspect wanted on outstanding warrants for failure to appear on felony crimes was at the residence. When Cousette got to the home at 6:23 p.m., he saw the suspect on the front porch and the suspect ran inside.
Cousette followed and an exchange of gunfire ensued. Both Cousette and the unidentified suspect were wounded, Tubbs said. A bail bondsman at the home at the time of the shooting was not injured.
Cousette, shot in the facial area, was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center. Sadly, he was pronounced dead a short time later. His body was taken via police escort to Montgomery for an autopsy.
After the shooting, the 20-year-old suspect fled the home. However, he later showed up at the hospital in Northport, where he was taken into custody.
The wanted man was previously arrested in 2017 on charges of robbery and assault. Failure to appear warrants and a bond forfeiture were issued against him on Aug. 21. His medical condition has not been released.
Cousette was also a veteran of the U.S. Army. He joined the police department in 2006. The murdered veteran cop is the fourth law enforcement officer shot to death in the line of duty in Alabama this year, AL.com reported.
“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,” he said.
This is Dornell Cousette. He was a @TuscaloosaPD officer, and he was murdered doing his job tonight. He had a fiancé and two children.
— Pelham Police Dept (@PelhamPoliceAL) September 17, 2019
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Cousette is the Tuscaloosa department’s 12th officer 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 in 2019 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 the 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 previously 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.”
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.”
Tubbs said as difficult as the loss is, Cousette’s fellow officers will have to go on. “It’s something you try to prepare for. You know there’s a possibility it will occur,” he said. “It’s our duty to protect the citizens of Tuscaloosa. As tough as it is, that’s what we do. That’s what we’ll continue to do.”