Seven Alabama officers dead last 13 months; AG says ‘disturbing pattern’ must end

Published 3:19 pm Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday condemned a record level of lethal violence against law enforcement officers in the state.

Seven Alabama law enforcement officers have been shot and killed in the past 13 months — six in 2019 and one so far this year.

Flanked at a news conference by police chiefs and sheriffs, Marshall called it “a record loss of life and a disturbing pattern that today we stand here to say must end.”

“This is the most members of Alabama law enforcement ever murdered in less than a 13 month period. The wave of senseless deaths over the past year cannot be the wave of the future in this state,” the attorney general said.

Marshall read out the names of the seven officers and the circumstances of their deaths.

“Those were not just officers. Those were fathers. Those were mothers,” Montgomery County Sheriff Derrick Cunningham said.

Cunningham’s friend, Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams, was one of the officers killed last year.

Stolen guns were used in at least five of the deaths, Marshall said.

The Republican attorney general also suggested an anti-law enforcement view was a contributing factor to the uptick in violence.

Marshall asked parents to teach children to respect law enforcement and asked news media not to only focus on “bad apples” within police officer ranks.

The attorney general also urged lawmakers to push back against beliefs that the state’s criminal justice system is too harsh. Alabama lawmakers are expected to debate limited sentencing reform as the state tries to reduce prison overcrowding.

“We spend hours and hours in this town talking about overcrowded prisons and very little talking about victims … I submit to you, Alabama does not have an incarceration problem, we have a crime problem,” Marshall said.

The seven officers slain in Alabama were:

—Birmingham police Sgt. Wytasha Carter, who was shot and killed in January as officers questioned two people suspected of trying to break into cars in Alabama’s largest city, the police department said.

—Mobile police Officer Sean Tuder, who was shot and killed in January. He was trying to apprehend a suspect when he was killed, the police department said.

—Auburn police Officer William Buechner, who was shot and killed in May while responding to a report of a domestic disturbance.

—Tuscaloosa police Officer Dornell Cousette, who was shot and killed in September while trying to arrest a wanted man. Cousette had spotted the suspect outside and was shot to death after chasing him into a house.

— Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams was shot and killed in November at a convenience store. The attorney general said he was responding to a noise complaint. The teenager charged in his slaying is the son of a deputy in a neighboring county.

—Huntsville police Billy Fred Clardy was shot and killed as a suspect opened fire when officers tried to intercept a suspected drug delivery, his department said.

— Kimberly Police Officer Nick O’Rear was shot and killed earlier this month while helping a neighboring department in a pursuit. The fleeing suspect shot him, Marshall said.