Huntsville, AL – Huntsville Police Department (HPD) Agent Billy Clardy was murdered in the line of duty by a convicted felon during a drug bust on Friday night.
The 48-year-old agent was a member of the department’s Strategic Counterdrug Team (STAC), which is also a part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Gulf Coast Task Force, HPD said in a press release on Saturday.
The incident began at about 4 p.m. on Dec. 6 near the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Levert Street Northwest while the drug task force was conducting an operation, The Birmingham News reported.
“STAC Agents set up a drug buy where a known offender was to drop off a large amount of drugs at a residence on Levert St,” HPD explained.
As the agents moved in to take him into custody, the suspect “immediately shot” Agent Clardy on the front porch of the home, police said.
The bullet went through the veteran agent’s ballistic vest and pierced his heart, The Birmingham News reported.
Officers returned fire, but the gunman was not hit.
The shooter was captured by officers on the perimeter of the scene following a brief foot pursuit, the HPD said.
He was later identified as 41-year-old LaJeromeny Brown, WAGA reported.
Brown has been charged with capital murder of a police officer, according to ABC News.
According to court records, Brown was facing pending charges of aggravated assault of a police officer, reckless endangerment, and evading arrest in Tennessee at the time of Agent Clardy’s murder, WHNT reported.
In 2013, Brown was arrested on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine-base crack and/or five kilograms or more of cocaine.
He was released from federal prison onto probation in July of 2018, having served 41 months.
In August of 2018, while he was on federal probation, Brown was allegedly involved in a string of home invasion robberies, WHNT reported.
Two months later, he was arrested in Chattanooga for criminal impersonation of a police officer and aggravated kidnapping.
The current status of the 2018 charges is unclear.
Agent Clardy was rushed to Huntsville Hospital, where medical personnel tried to save him for more than an hour before he succumbed to his gunshot wound, Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray told reporters during a press conference on Friday evening.
“The Huntsville Police Department has suffered a tremendous loss,” the Chief McMurray said. “Bill Clardy was more than a Huntsville hero. He was an American Hero.”
Agent Clardy, a U.S. Army veteran, was awarded the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Army Service Medal, and the National Defense Medal during his military career, The Birmingham News reported.
He served with the Fayetteville, Tennessee Police Department and the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office before he joined HPD, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Agent Clardy went on to serve HPD for 14 years.
Agent Clardy received eight letters of appreciation, two outstanding unit citations, and 19 certificates of commendation during his illustrious career, The Birmingham News reported.
“First and foremost, he was a beloved son, brother, husband and father,” HPD said. “[He was] also an exceptional police officer with many career accomplishments. He started his career working North Huntsville as a patrol officer. He quickly moved to become a Community Relations Officer for several years, became a part of the very first HPD Anti-Crime Team and then became a STAC Agent.”
Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner said that Agent Clardy loved being a member of the drug task force, WAGA reported.
“And I stand up here and tell you right now, Billy Clardy would do it all over again right now,” Sheriff Turner declared. “I know he would."
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said that Agent Clardy was the first officer to take him on a ride-along after he was elected as mayor, according to the city’s website.
“I’ll never forget his spirit, his selfless dedication to this City and his true talent as an officer,” Battle noted. “Officer Clardy was an exemplary Community Resource Officer with a special emphasis of taking care of the homeless.”
“He was a great example of the heart and soul of being a police officer,” the mayor added. “We stand united as a City, as a State and as a Nation in support of the Huntsville Police Department and the Clardy family.”
Huntsville City Council Member Bill Kling said that Agent Clardy’s murder serves as a reminder of the dangers law enforcement officers face every time they head to work.
“To say being a police officer is tough job is an understatement. It’s a job for heroes,” Kling said. “Each time the men and women of law enforcement put on their shoes and tighten their laces, there’s always a chance they won’t come home. How do you even begin to show appropriate gratitude for that level of sacrifice?”
Agent Clardy’s father, Huntsville Police Officer Billy Clardy Jr., died in the line of duty in a car crash on May 3, 1978, as he was responding to assist a fellow officer, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
He was 26 years old at the time of his tragic death.
Following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps, Agent Clardy’s son, Brandon, has announced that he will soon begin his own career in law enforcement.
“I never knew Thursday night would be the last time I spoke to you dad…it’s as if God set up that phone call,” Brandon wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday morning. “You were the first person I told I accepted the Police Officer job in Albertville. You gave me great words of wisdom that I will forever carry with me day in and day out.”
“We don’t always understand why God takes the ones who are just trying to fight the good fight,” Brandon said. “I love you dad and will forever make you proud. We’ve got it from here dad…I’m so thankful for this opportunity to carry on my Fathers legacy.”
Agent Clardy leaves behind his wife and five children, according to the HPD.
He is also survived by his mother and two brothers, WHNT reported.
Agent Clardy will be laid to rest on Tuesday.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Huntsville Police Department Agent Billy Clardy, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Agent Billy Clardy, your life mattered.