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Suspect in Tuscaloosa police officer’s killing charged with capital murder

Tuscaloosa Co Sheriff's Office

Authorities charged a 20-year-old man Wednesday with capital murder in this week’s fatal shooting of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, police officer Dornell Cousette.

Cousette, 40, was attempting to arrest Luther Watkins Jr. on multiple felony warrants Monday when Watkins killed him, the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said.

Watkins, who was injured when he and Cousette exchanged gunfire, is being held without bail at an undisclosed location for security reasons, the sheriff’s office said.

“I would like to say that the family of Investigator Cousette is foremost in our thoughts, and the investigators of the violent crimes unit working this case have but one goal in mind: obtaining all facts and evidence to provide to the district attorney’s office for a successful prosecution,” Lt. Jack Kennedy of the sheriff’s violent crimes unit said following the shooting.

Prior to the shooting, Watkins was wanted for failing to appear in court on charges of first-degree robbery and second-degree assault, as well two more first-degree robbery counts stemming from incidents on September 6 and 10, police said.

Cousette was driving by a residence and saw Watkins in the front yard, police said. Watkins fled into the residence and Cousette exited his vehicle, ordered Watkins to stop and gave chase, they said.

“Almost immediately gunfire erupted inside. Both Watkins and Investigator Cousette were struck. Watkins, despite being injured, fled the scene on foot. Investigator Cousette was transported to the hospital where he died as a result of his injuries,” police said.

Watkins was arrested at another location, they said. His medical condition is unknown.

Cousette had been with the Tuscaloosa Police Department for more than 13 years, Mayor Walt Maddox said during a news conference, according to CNN affiliate WVTM.

“In our community, our heroes wear the police uniform of the Tuscaloosa Police Department. And tonight, one of our heroes has died in the line of duty, protecting our city,” Maddox said Monday.

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