HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - “We lost a little bit of life yesterday when we lost the life of Billy Clardy.”
Those were the words of an emotional Mayor Tommy Battle as he joined his fellow officials at a press conference Saturday to tell the world the name of the officer who lost his life in the line of duty less than 24 hours earlier.
Billy Clardy III wore badge number 12 for the Huntsville Police Department until Dec. 6, 2019. On that day, he and his fellow drug agents responded to an investigation around Levert Street. Police say a suspect believed to be involved in a drug transaction fired at Clardy, who was pronounced dead at Huntsville Hospital a short time later.
That suspect was quickly caught and charged with capital murder.
When officials from Huntsville and other agencies gathered around the Fallen Officers Memorial Saturday, they made it clear they were not there to discuss that suspect. They were there to let the public know who they had lost.
Everyone who spoke about Clardy invariable brought up his dedication to others and his steadfast service.
Clardy was hired at the Huntsville Police Department in 2005, starting as a patrol officer in north Huntsville. He later became a community relations officer. He was later part of HPD’s first anti-crime team, a post that earned him citations for outstanding service.
He was also part of the department’s mobile field force, as well as a training officer for cadets and self-defense instructor,
Police Chief Mark McMurray said Clardy was brought on as a STAC agent in 2018 due to his hard work, street knowledge and knowledge of north Huntsville.
It’s a part of town where his name is a fixture.
“Everyone knows the Clardy family in north Huntsville,” McMurray said.
Before joining HPD, he was an officer in Fayetteville and a Limestone County deputy.
Clardy was a lifelong lawman and a distinguished one at that. In his Huntsville career alone he earned 19 certificates of commendation, two outstanding unit citations in the street level crime unit he served in, 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. His 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 didn’t just earn police distinctions. He was also a serviceman with U.S. Army awards he wore proudly. This includes 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.
The police chief said Clardy was not only dedicated to public safety, but to the homeless as well. He got to know the city’s homeless population through his work as a community resource officer.
He wanted to help and brought photos and files about the homeless to Battle “because he cared.”
“He knew where every homeless camp was. He knew the phone numbers of every person who had one in the homeless camps, and he took a great deal of care and love dealing with our homeless,” McMurray said.
The mayor called Clardy a friend and a caring man. He was emotional as he recalled how Clardy was the first officer he rode with after becoming mayor.
Battle wasn’t the only one who felt that way. The heartbreak was audible in every word in Saturday’s press conference.
Clardy was also injured after being assaulted by a suspect in 2007, an incident he was later honored for.
Clardy’s father was also a Huntsville police officer - and also killed in the line of duty. Billy Clardy Jr. was in a fatal on-duty car wreck on May 3, 1978, while he was en route to meet another officer.
Clardy Jr.'s name is now on the Fallen Officers Memorial in Huntsville. Soon, there will be two Clardys there.
“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 and five children.
Huntsville police say the funeral will be Tuesday at Mayfair Church of Christ at 1095 Carl T. Jones Drive in Huntsville. A public viewing will be held from noon until 2 p.m.
The funeral procession will be from Carl T. Jones to Airport Road to Whitesburg Drive to California Street. The procession will end near Maple Hill Cemetery.