The local law enforcement community is mourning the loss of a brother, Billy Clardy, III, a former sergeant with the Fayetteville Police Department killed in the line of duty Friday in Huntsville, Ala.
Clardy, who worked for FPD from January 1999 through June of 2000, was a STAC agent with the Huntsville Police Department, working as part of the North Alabama Drug Task Force under HIDTA Gulf Coast Task Force.
“Billy’s dedication to his community and his country was just exceptional,” said FPD Chief Richard Howell, recalling the officer’s work in community policing here, as well as his service in the military. “I don’t think he ever missed a day – he loved what he did and always gave back more than was asked of him. Our thoughts and prayers are definitely with his wife and children.”
Adam Eubanks, now a veteran detective with FPD, had just joined the department a year earlier, and when Clardy was hired, they worked as partners 0n the force.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an individual who was as eager to go to work as Billy,” said Eubanks. “Even when we weren’t working an active case, we’d be playing football with the kids – he loved them and knew all of them by name. He had a natural ability to talk with the kids.
“He was also proud of being a part of the STAC team,” Eubanks said, adding that in recent years the two have often collaborated on cases. “Billy was always glad to help us, and of course, we were always glad to return the favor … It was a pleasure to work with him. He was a good man and a good law enforcement officer.”
A wreath honoring Clardy’s service here was escorted by officers in Saturday’s Christmas parade and stood guard at the department’s headquarters earlier this week. Howell said that it would be given to the agent’s wife after Tuesday’s Fayetteville Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.
The officer is the second from the FPD to have been killed in the line of duty while serving with HPD. On Aug. 29, 2005, Daniel Golden was fatally shot as he responded to a call for assistance at a Huntsville business.
According to Huntsville police, Clardy and his fellow agents responded to an investigation near Levert Street in Huntsville late Friday afternoon. Police say a suspect believed to be involved in a drug transaction fired at Clardy, who was shot outside his bulletproof vest. The officer was pronounced dead at Huntsville Hospital a short time later.
The suspect, later identified as 41-year-old LaJeromeny Latez Brown, was quickly caught and charged with capital murder. According to media reports, Brown has a lengthy criminal record in the Chattanooga area where he has been arrested on charges ranging from assaulting a police officer, selling cocaine, heroin and meth, as well as impersonating an officer, aggravated kidnapping and robbery. Brown was once called one of “Chattanooga’s most dangerous criminals” by Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. Brown was released from prison in July 2018 after serving 41 months on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
During a press conference held by the Huntsville Police Department Saturday, officials said the focus would be on Clardy and his service to the community rather than the suspect in the shooting.
“We lost a little bit of life yesterday when we lost the life of Billy Clardy,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said during the press conference, held at the Fallen Officers Memorial where Clardy’s father, Billy Clardy, Jr., who lost his life in a car accident while on duty with HPD in 1978, is memorialized.
Police Chief Mark McMurray spoke of Clardy’s dedication to the community and steadfast service, citing numerous awards the officer has received since starting as a patrol officer in north Huntsville back in 2005. In his career with HPD, he earned 19 certificates of commendation, two outstanding unit citations in the street level crime unit in which he served, eight letters of appreciation for service, as well as other service awards. The Exchange Club named him “Officer of the Year” for his more than 178 arrests in a single year. Clardy’s latest honor was in October for the partnership for a drug-free community for his service in the Madison-Morgan County HIDTA Drug Task Force.
Clardy had also a served with the U.S. Army, earning a National Defense Medal, Army Service Medal and Overseas Service Ribbon.
“Billy Clardy was more than a Huntsville hero. He was an American hero,” McMurray said, noting Clardy’s dedication to the city’s homeless population through his work as a community resource officer.
According to the chief, Clardy’s name will soon be added to the Fallen Officers Memorial in Huntsville.
“Pretty soon we’re going to put his name right up next to his father’s,” said McMurray. “Two law enforcement officers. Father and son.”
Clardy is survived by his wife, five children and grandchildren. A candlelight vigil organized by the Thin Line Support was held Sunday evening at the HPD Fallen Officers Memorial statue, where Clardy’s patrol unit was positioned. Residents left flowers, gifts, mementoes and candles for the Clardy family there.
Funeral services for the officer are planned for Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Mayfair Church of Christ in Huntsville. Public viewing is set from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m.