Chattanooga man arrested in Alabama police officer's death

Lajeromeny Brown

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Authorities on Saturday identified an Alabama police officer who was killed during a drug enforcement operation and said the man's father was also an officer with the Huntsville Police Department who died in the line of duty.

Billy Clardy was shot in the heart Friday during a drug buy set up by authorities at a residence where they expected a suspect to drop off a large amount of drugs, Huntsville police said.

The suspect immediately shot Clardy on the porch and was captured after a short foot chase, authorities said. Police identified the suspect as LaJeromeny Brown, 41, from Tennessee, news outlets reported. It was not immediately clear whether Brown had an attorney.

Police have said Clardy was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was shot.

Police Chief Mark McMurray said at a news conference on Saturday that Clardy joined the Huntsville police force in 2005 after serving in the military and as a law enforcement officer in other agencies. He had served as a community resource officer in Huntsville -- a role in which he worked closely with the city's homeless population.

He was selected for a drug task force in 2018.

"Billy Clardy was more than a Huntsville hero," McMurray said. "He was an American hero."

Clardy is survived by a wife and five children, according to the police chief.

McMurray said Clardy's father was also a Huntsville police officer. The father, Billy Clardy Jr., died in a crash while on duty in 1978, reported.

McMurray was flanked by wreaths and surrounded by other officers.

Madison County Sheriff Kevin Turner, his voice quivering at times, said Clardy loved working on the drug task force.

"And I stand up here and tell you right now, Billy Clardy would do it all over again right now," he said. "I know he would."

Six Alabama law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty in 2019, according to numbers released by the Alabama attorney general's office following last month's fatal shooting of Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams.

In October of 2018, Brown was arrested after allegedly fleeing from Chattanooga police in a high speed chase, and a few months prior to that was a person of interest in an Aug. 15 robbery in which he and another suspect reportedly impersonated Chattanooga police officers.

On Oct. 11, Brown, fled from Chattanooga police after they tried to conduct a felony traffic stop at Jersey Pike and Hancock Road, according to previous reporting.

Officers followed the vehicle to the 7400 block of Noah Reid Road, which was closed to motor vehicle traffic. At that point, the suspect's vehicle left the roadway and came to a stop after striking the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks, slightly moving one of the rails.

No officers or federal agents were injured in the crash, though the suspect did sustain non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to a local hospital for treatment, the news release states.

Three Chattanooga police vehicles were damaged in the pursuit.

Brown is considered a violent felon and was a suspect in an Aug. 15 robbery. The victim told police she was outside her home when approached by two men brandishing handguns who yelled "Chattanooga police" and forced their way inside her home.

The suspects held the victim against her will while they stole electronics, a cell phone and a vehicle. Brown was also wanted by federal agents for probation violations.

He faced multiple charges, including aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, impersonating a police officer and assault on police. More charges could be added as the investigation continues.

Brown has an arrest record in Hamilton County dating back to 2004, according to online court documents. Most of his older charges include drug and traffic-related violations.