TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — Tuscaloosa’s regular city council meeting on Tuesday opened with something out of the ordinary: a moment of silence for a fallen officer.
The moment was to remember and honor Ofc. Dornell Cousette, who was shot and killed while trying to serve a warrant Monday night. It’s the first time that the city has had a police officer killed in the line of duty since 2011 when Ofc. Trevor Phillips was killed in a motorcycle accident while escorting a funeral procession.
“We’ve got to call this what it is: a murder,” Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said. “We have a murder of a police officer and now as a community, how do we respond? My experience in Tuscaloosa tells me that we’re going to respond in a way that’s going to be a difference-maker for many.”
Cousette was a 13-year veteran of the department, leaving behind two daughters and a fiancé.
“I woke up with the heavy heart,” Councilwoman Sonya McKinstry said. “But then I woke up mad as hell because I feel that, how many times do we have to continue to have this happen? Who is going to be next?”
Maddox said he wants the community to understand that Tuscaloosa is a safe city, largely thanks to the tireless efforts of the Tuscaloosa Police Department and officers like Cousette.
However, Maddox said more needs to be done to decrease the level of the violence in each of the city’s districts. He said that the city council will be leaning on community partners, as well, to make sometimes positive happen.
“We’ve all got work to do,” he said, “and now, we have a moral obligation to Officer Cousette to do something with this tragedy.”
CBS 42 asked McKinstry and Maddox about the possibility of honoring Cousette, much in the way that Ofc. Phillips was memorialized. A portion of Mill Creek Avenue, near the Tuscaloosa Police Department, was renamed in Phillips’ honor back in 2012.
“I would expect that after this period of mourning, what we will want to do is something that honors his life for generations to come,” Maddox said.
McKinstry echoed, “I am definitely for that. If we could do it tomorrow, I would 100% for that, but I just ask for now, the city is mourning. We’re a big family. We just need to wrap our arms around this family and also, our fellow law enforcement, and just try to pick up the pieces.”