SAYING GOODBYE: COMMUNITY HONORS LIFE, MEMORY OF INVESTIGATOR DORNELL COUSETTE

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Hundreds of family members, friends, co-workers and community members from around the state were in Tuscaloosa Sunday, paying their respects to fallen Tuscaloosa Investigator Dornell Cousette.

Cousette’s funeral was held at noon Sunday at a packed Shelton State Community College gymnasium, less than a week after he was shot and killed in the line of duty.

“I say to Officer Cousette: You’re loved, you will be missed, but you will never be forgotten,” said former Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson. “And you will forever be a part of the brotherhood of law enforcement.”

Cousette joined TPD in 2006 after serving in the military. While he was an officer, he was also a son, a brother, a father, an uncle, a nephew, a cousin and a friend.

“The thing that struck me most about Officer Cousette was when I was going through a difficult time in my life in 2017,” Anderson said.

It was late that evening, and Anderson ran into Cousette in the parking lot.

“Officer Cousette walked up to me and he said ‘Chief, you’re not in this alone. You’re not in this by yourself. We got you. There are a lot of us who are praying for you and we have your back,’ ” Anderson said. “I can’t express to you in words how much that meant to me.”

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Knowing Cousette and many of the men and women at TPD were concerned was a great help, Anderson said.

“Well today I say to Officer Cousette and his family: You’re not alone. We got you,” Anderson said.

Everyone who spoke about Cousette expressed how much he loved his job, his city and helping others.

“I was amazed at how many letters and awards were in his file,” said Interim Police Chief Keith Tubbs. Cousette’s 13 years of commendations and awards encompassed more than some officers gained in 30 years, Tubbs said.

“If he had done the 30 years, we’d have to get a bigger file, because he was amazing,” he said.


Cousette’s service lasted just over an hour. From there, his processional route began its journey to his final resting place in Aliceville.

There were few dry eyes as even more residents came out Sunday to watch Cousette’s procession.

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At Northport City Hall, cars lined up in the parking lot an hour beforehand.

Those who were there said it’s imperative that the Tuscaloosa community come together in their support of Cousette and his family.

Police cars from across Alabama and beyond were there, reminding Alabamians how much pride the community has for its law enforcement.

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“This is something that is big,” said Northport resident Carla Bailey. “They go put their lives on the line for us. … When a tragedy happens we all come together and we stand together as one.”

The procession from Northport to Aliceville took about 40 minutes, and Cousette was buried at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church on Unity Cemetery Road in Aliceville.


Before the funeral, the Tuscaloosa chapter of the Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club hosted a motorcycle ride in honor of Cousette.

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Riders began at Veterans Memorial Park in front of University Mall, passed by the Tuscaloosa Police Department and ended back where they started.

“Not only was he a law enforcement officer, but he’s also an Army veteran,” said Tuscaloosa chapter of the Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club Treasurer Damon Stevenson. “We’ve got several veterans groups here today as well to pay tribute to this fallen officer.”

Donations from the ride are going to Cousette’s family, and donations are still being taken through Pay Pal. If you’re interested in donating through the Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, you can donate at paypal.me/ttownpunishers.


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Local businesses have gone above and beyond showing their support for Tuscaloosa Police, including several restaurants who are ensuring officers don’t go hungry.

The University of Alabama Inter-Fraternity Council donated more than 400 boxed lunches for police officers who attended Cousette’s funeral. Buffalo Rock donated water, and Cici’s Pizza donated 40 pizzas.

The University of Alabama honored Cousette by turning Bryant-Denny Stadium blue last week. In addition, Cousette’s police car was parked on the Walk of Champions, allowing community members a chance to leave cards, flowers and their well-wishes for the family.


In Their Words: Remembering Officer Cousette

City leaders past and present offered their thoughts for Officer Dornell Cousette and his family. Read their statements below:

  • “I hired Officer Cousette in April of 2006. An outstanding officer.” — Former Tuscaloosa Police Chief Ken Swindle
  • Officer Cousette, we never had a problem. He was just super. All the other officers just loved him to death. He fit in and went right to work. The community loved him and he just did a super job.” — Swindle
  • “He went to juvenile division and did an excellent job in juvenile. But one of the main things I always heard people say about him is how well he knew the community. If they needed to know somebody in the community or needed to find somebody, Officer Cousette knew them and knew how to talk to them. They said he could talk to anybody from a bank president down to a person on the street. He just did a great job with them.” — Swindle
  • “Bravery. That’s Dornell. Dornell was not afraid. Dornell, he did his job.” — Sgt. Sebo Sanders, Fraternal Order of Police President
  • “I’d be glad to go in a house if he was still living to go get a suspect. Because I know he had people’s backs. Dornell had the heart of a lion. This senseless killing took away a good guy. Took away a father, a friend.” — Sanders
  • “He had a great attitude. He was just a terrific Investigator. He worked. He worked hard. He did a terrific job helping victims victimized by suspects and perpetrators in our community.” — Former Police Chief Steve Anderson
  • He was one of those officers that would just not stop until he made an arrest. Just a tremendous officer. We are going to miss him in the law enforcement community. We are going to miss him at the Tuscaloosa Police Department. His family is going to miss him. It’s just a sad and somber time for us right now.” — Anderson
  • “Just a wonderful human being. He was just delightful. He loved his city. He loved his little girls. He had a tremendous amount of pride for being in the honor guard. He loved what he did.” — Tuscaloosa City Councilman Kip Tyner
  • “A police officer who really gave his life serving this community, but also day in and day out the last few years, we would always see him on campus and on game day.” — University of Alabama President Stuart Bell
  • “He has demonstrated that even in the cruelest of circumstances, that darkness can be pierced by the light.” — Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox

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