Man charged with killing Tuscaloosa police officer has first court appearance

Local News

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Under heavy police protection, Luther Watkins was brought inside the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse Friday for his preliminary hearing.

More than 100 people gathered inside the courtroom, most of whom were police officers from different agencies to show support for fallen Tuscaloosa police officer Dornell Cousette.

“I would expect the officers to support their fallen officer and I think that’s a good comment on the good cohesion of law enforcement in this community,” said Jim Standridge, Watkins’ attorney.

Watkins, 20, is accused of shooting and killing Cousette, 40, on Sept. 16 while Cousette was attempting to serve him an arrest warrant for a pending robbery case. The night of the shooting, officers found Watkins suffering from a gunshot wound.

“We feel horrible about Ofc. Cousette’s friends and family and this community and this tragic loss everyone has suffered,” Standridge said.

“However, because of the seriousness of this offense, we feel its important that no stone go unturned in connection with investigating.

One of the witnesses was Lonny Boshell, an investigator with the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit, who testified that Cousette and Watkins knew one another from previous robbery cases.

“We are just at the starting point of this investigation and we will continue to investigate this case to make sure that Mr. Watkins is represented while being mindful of the loss to this community with Ofc. Cousette,” Standridge said.

Prosecutors said Watkins had told hospital workers he was shot in a drive by and not by Cousette. Investigators are also claiming that Watkins was allegedly seen dumping bullets in the DCH Northport hospital after he was dropped off. After the shooting, police found a 9 mm pistol with blood on it in tool box behind the house were the shooting occurred.

“Of course he is remorseful, but his public statements are that he did not shoot Ofc. Cousette, but thats all I know,” Standridge said.

Ultimately, Judge Bradley Almond found probable cause to send this case to a grand jury.

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