MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Judge Patrick Tuten has sent the murder case of LaJeromeny Brown over to a grand jury.
While in court Monday, the prosecution indicated they plan to seek the death penalty in the case.
Brown is accused of shooting and killing Huntsville Police Officer Billy Clardy III on December 6 at a home on Levert Street.
There was only one witness to testify at Brown’s preliminary hearing Monday. Huntsville Police Investigator Chris Hines described his investigation of the December 6th events.
Hines testified to the following:
Clardy was an agent for the STAC, anti-drug unit, which decided to target Brown in a drug buy operation involving 100 pounds of marijuana. He said they identified Brown as a target after an undercover drug buy of 3 pounds of marijuana in November that took place in the parking lot of Parkway Place Mall.
Drug agents decided to set up the larger purchase on Levert to arrest Brown.
Hines said Clardy and one other officer were in the house on Levert waiting for Brown to appear. They were in a room off to the side of the front door.
The initial plan was for Brown to park across the street, and for officers to arrest him before he even got to the house. However, Hines said plans had to be adjusted when Brown parked in the front yard of the house. Brown carried a suitcase and a couple of other bags filled with marijuana onto the porch of the home.
Hines says that as Brown approached the house Clardy and the other officer were told he was approaching the front door. Clardy emerged from the bedroom first as Brown opened the front door.
Hines testified that no words were exchanged before Brown fired eight shots using a 9 mm Glock pistol that had apparently been modified to be fully automatic. It carried a 30-round magazine. Clardy was hit twice. Brown ran from the home and the officer with Clardy fired one shot at Brown’s truck, thinking that’s where Brown went.
Some officers on the scene tended to Clardy while others pursued Brown; all were waiting in vehicles as backup. Police arrested Brown about 100 yards from where he had tossed his gun, according to Hines.
While in custody, Brown told police he was in the area looking at foreclosed houses. Hines said he wouldn’t answer any questions about the incident.
The defense asked Hines about police identifying themselves. They suggested Brown was fearful that he was being robbed. But prosecutors got Hines to point out that the vest Clardy was wearing said “police” on the front.
Hines said Clardy did not have a body cam on but the officer with him did. He says the body cam video also confirms his testimony in the preliminary hearing.
At the hearing, Hines testified the drugs found on the porch and inside Brown’s truck totaled approximately 106 pounds of marijuana all packed in suitcases and trash bags.
We also learned in the hearing that the house on Levert was secured by Clardy’s wife on fairly short notice as the location for the drug buy to take place.
Monday evening Judge Tuten denied the defense’s motion to set bail for Brown. The prosecution strongly opposed the request for bond, arguing that since they were seeking the death penalty Brown was a flight risk. They also argued given his lengthy criminal history, he is a danger to the community.
LaJeromeny Brown is in court today for his preliminary hearing in Huntsville Police officer Billy Clardy’s death. pic.twitter.com/fcFLC0JBnL— WHNT News 19 (@whnt) January 27, 2020
Brown, a native of Chattanooga, is charged with capital murder. Brown has a long record of criminal charges, primarily in Hamilton County, Tennessee, dating back more than two decades.
Officer Clardy was a member of the HPD STAC team that handles drug cases. A drug bust was planned for Dec. 6 with Brown as a target, police said. A drug buy was set up at a house on Levert Street. Brown is alleged to have shot Clardy during that encounter.
Officers at the scene drove Clardy to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.
Clardy was a decorated U.S. Army veteran and had received multiple commendations as a police officer. He’d been with the Huntsville Police Department since 2005.
Clardy was also well-known for his close work with Huntsville’s homeless population. His death led to an outpouring of grief and pledges of support for his family. Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray called Clardy a hero.
The defense filed a motion with the court Friday asking that bond be set for Brown. He’s been held without bond since Dec. 6. The defense suggested a bond amount of $50,000.