Members of the Tuscaloosa Police Department joined Mayor Walt Maddox, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and other local leaders Tuesday to honor the family of Investigator Dornell Cousette, a TPD officer who was killed in the line of duty in September 2019.

Cousette was serving a warrant on a suspect, Luther Bernard Watkins, Jr., which led him into Watkins' apartment, where they reportedly exchanged gunfire. Cousette was shot and succumbed to his wounds at DCH Regional Medical Center shortly after.

"Dornell was quiet around the department, so he didn't really stand out, but I assure you the work he did changed countless lives, said Mitt Tubbs, who was acting chief of police when Cousette was killed.

"Nationwide the police profession is under attack," Tubbs said. "Every day, day in and day out, we deal with facts and truth. We're being attacked by falsehoods and distortions."

"For the young officers out here, you might wonder what our future holds," he said. "If you'll model yourself after Dornell Cousette, everything will be just fine."

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Maddox told Cousette's family that the heart of Tuscaloosa remains with them, and praised the fallen investigator as a model to follow.

"He had no fear," Maddox said. "He didn't fear justice, he believed in justice. He believed justice should be available to all."

Maddox also said he strongly supports the city's police department and that he and the city council are working constantly to make police that benefits TPD.

"I wish the public could see what you do," Maddox said. "If they saw the lives that you save, the hearts that you mend, the hope that you provide, maybe they could spend a little more time focusing on the amazing work on the men and women in law enforcement across the nation."

Marshall, who organized the memorial event, said he did so because the COVID-19 pandemic prevented his office from honoring the state's fallen officers in person last year.

"While we all hope there's a time in which we won't have to hold events like this, where we honor someone's sacrifice, the reality is it's still a curse. We know that all too well," Marshall said. "The men and women who night and day stand guard to protect us do so not out of fame and fortune, but one out of a selfless duty to serve their fellow man."

Marshall highlighted a spike in line-of-duty deaths in 2020, which more than doubled compared to 2019.

In Alabama, 8 law enforcement officers were lost -- 5 to felonious assault and 3 to COVID-19.

"Today we're here to pause and reflect on the service of one of Tuscaloosa's heroes," Marshall said. "Cousette was a model police officer. He went the extra mile to get to know the ones he was called to serve, especially the youth of the community.

Marshall presented Cousette's two daughters, Lydia and Sylvia, with a pair of praying hands and a framed proclamation that honored Cousette's sacrifice.

"We have not forgotten the sacrifice and service of Investigator Cousette, or the example he left for this community," Marshall said.

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