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State mourns loss of Huntsville officer Billy Clardy III

Brandon Moseley

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Friday, Huntsville Police Officer Billy Clardy III was shot and killed in the line of duty. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) expressed her grief at the loss of yet another Alabama law enforcement officer killed defending the public safety of the people of Alabama.

Officer Clardy was part of a STAC team operation that set up a drug buy at a house on Levert Street Friday night. When officers arrived, LaJeromeny Brown allegedly shot Clardy. The officers maintaining the perimeter caught Brown after a short foot chase. Clardy was rushed to the hospital where he died from his wound.

Clardy was a fourteen year veteran of the Huntsville Police Department. His family has a long history in law enforcement in Madison County. STAC is a multi-jurisdictional federal drug task force led by the Huntsville Police Department.

LaJeromeny Brown, age 41, has been charged with capital murder for the slaying of Agent Clardy.

“I am grieved to hear of the Huntsville Police Officer killed in the line of duty and extend my deepest sympathies and prayers to his family for their unimaginable loss,” Gov. Ivey said in a statement. “It has been an exceptionally tough year for our law enforcement community, and this will be felt across our state. I will also be praying for strength for the Huntsville Police as they grieve the loss of their fellow officer, as well as for their continued protection as they keep us safe. May the Lord’s peace that passes all understanding be with the family and everyone who loved this dedicated officer.”

“With the loss of Officer Clardy, all of us lost a little bit of life yesterday,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said. “Clardy was the first officer I rode with after being elected Mayor, and I’ll never forget his spirit, his selfless dedication to this City and his true talent as an officer.”

“Officer Clardy was an exemplary Community Resource Officer with a special emphasis of taking care of the homeless,” Battle added. “In addition to being a member of the STAC team, Officer Clardy was a key member of HPD’s Anti-Crime team. He was a great example of the heart and soul of being a police officer. We stand united as a City, as a State and as a Nation in support of the Huntsville Police Department and the Clardy family.”

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“A @HSVPolice officer has fallen tonight, killed by gunfire in the line of duty,” Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) said on social media. “As we mourn the loss of yet another one of Alabama’s heroes, let us pledge to find ways to keep law enforcement safe. Please pray for the officer’s family and fellow officers. #ThinBlueLine.”

“Last night, a Huntsville police officer was tragically killed in the line of duty,” Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said. “My thoughts and prayers go to him, his family, and his colleagues. America’s law enforcement is all that stands between dangerous criminals and our families. Please thank all police officers who risk their lives for us.”

“All of Alabama is heartbroken again as another Alabama peace officer is gunned down in the line of duty,” U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town said in a statement. “The Huntsville Police Department investigator, whose name will be released tomorrow, will always be remembered as a good man and a fine officer. Those of us who knew him admired his dedication and professionalism. We must now direct our prayers to his grieving family and pull together in full support of the Huntsville Police Department and law enforcement everywhere who lost another brother of the badge tonight. I am beyond grief.”

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“The Madison County Democrats express deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Billy Clardy,” the Party said in a statement. “Officer Clardy was the nephew of Retired Deputy Sheriff and former Democratic Candidate, Tim Clardy. Words cannot express the community’s gratitude each citizen feels towards every officer who puts their life on the line for our safety every day, and for the families they leave to grieve their memory.”

“When we talk about a family in law enforcement, the STAC team is a prime example of that,” said Madison County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Stacy Bates. “It’s kind of the ultimate representative of what a family-type law enforcement unit is.”

The STAC Team has been fighting drugs in Huntsville for decades.

“There’s no investigation too small that they don’t handle, there’s none too big they can’t handle,” said Bates.

Brown is a parolee with a long, sordid history of repeated criminal conduct. In 2013 his probation was revoked after he was arrested for conspiracy to distribute crack. That year, he was on a list of the 31 most dangerous criminals in Chattanooga released by the Mayor of that city. In March 2018, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Poole filed a petition seeking a warrant for Brown for a parole violation after the Border Patrol arrested him near Laredo, Texas and charged him with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Poole argued that that and leaving the jurisdiction of his parole justified revocation of parole. On October 2018, Poole filed another petition for a warrant stating that Brown committed another crime after he was arrested by the Chattanooga Police issued warrants for Brown’s arrest on the charges of: aggravated robbery aggravated burglary, aggravated kidnapping, and impersonating a police officer. He is a suspect in a series of home invasions in 2018. He was arrested again in December 2018 and charged with assault of a police officer.

A lack of sufficient prison space to house the many dangerous repeat offenders like Brown is an issue that confronts the state of Alabama and many other states.

Clardy’s father, Billy Clardy Jr., was killed in the line of duty, in a fatal car crash in 1978 at age 26. Clardy III had hung an ornament on the Fallen Officers Tree in honor of his father on November 29.

Clardy is the seventh member of law enforcement killed in the line of duty in Alabama this year.

(Original reporting by WHNT Channel 19 TV and WAAY Channel 31 TV contributed to this report.)

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Crime

Alabama parole officers seize firearms, ammunition and drugs in Enterprise

The seized evidence will be presented to a grand jury for further action and to authorities for potential federal charges.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Officers of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles on Wednesday seized two semiautomatic weapons, ammunition and drugs from a convicted armed robber in an operation in Enterprise. One of the seized weapons was stolen.

Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles director Charlie Graddick praised officers Jared McPhaul and Troy Staley for their work.

“The first job every day of our officers is to protect public safety,” Graddick said. “These officers stopped a parolee with a violent history from potentially using illegal weapons to harm someone. We are all grateful for their hard work and dedication.”

The officers arrested parolee Jay Gatewood on a parole violation. Gatewood is out on parole after serving prison time for first-degree robbery and child abuse. Evidence of a possible parole violation was found after a search of Gatewood’s car.

The seized evidence will be presented to a grand jury for further action and to authorities for potential federal charges.

Parolees are required to report to parole officers periodically. Gatewood had failed to report for the month of October so McPhaul directed him to come to the Enterprise office to report. The officers had received a tip that Gatewood might be engaging in illegal activities.

When Gatewood arrived, the officers, acting on the tip, asked if there was anything improper in his vehicle. On questioning, Gatewood admitted to the officers that there was a gun in his car.

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McPhaul and Staley then searched the vehicle and found two 9 mm semiautomatic handguns. They also found three ammunition magazines, two of which were fully loaded, and a jar of marijuana with a digital scale.

The parole officers turned the evidence over to the Enterprise Police Department. McPhaul said that one of the guns had been reported stolen.

On March 17, 2008, Gatewood was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the armed robbery of a Dothan law office. He received three additional years for a child abuse conviction.

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After serving just eight years of his sentence with the Alabama Department of Corrections, Gatewood was paroled in 2016. This was before Graddick was appointed the director of Pardons and Paroles. Gatewood has been supervised by parole officers since his release from prison.

For a convicted criminal to be in possession of firearms is a federal offense. That as well as the possession of illegal drugs and stolen property are all parole violations.

Gatewood, who has been jailed for the alleged parole violations, could potentially have his parole revoked for any one or more of these offenses. That will be determined in a future hearing.

Gatewood could potentially face new charges in the federal system for the gun charge. The stolen property and the marijuana could also be prosecuted in the state court system.

The possession of the digital scale is an indication that the marijuana was for other than personal use.

Depending on the amount of marijuana in the jar and any other evidence presented to the grand jury, Gatewood could potentially face a felony drug charge.

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Crime

Alabama inmate dies after inmate-on-inmate assault

Edwin Wells, 29, died on Oct. 10 from injuries during an apparent inmate-on-inmate assault at the Easterling Correctional Facility, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed on Tuesday. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

A Prattville man became at least the 19th Alabama inmate to have died this year in a state prison of circumstances that were avoidable. 

Edwin Wells, 29, died on Oct. 10 from injuries during an apparent inmate-on-inmate assault at the Easterling Correctional Facility, the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed on Tuesday. 

Wells death makes at least the 19th inmate to have died from either suicide, drug overdoses or homicide, according to records kept by the ACLU of Alabama’s Campaign for Smart Justice. His death is at least the seventh suspected homicide in state prisons this year. 

ADOC doesn’t typically publish information on an inmate death unless a reporter discovers the death through other means and requests the information, with the expectation of deaths of inmates who tested positive for COVID-19, which the department does regularly release. 

“The ADOC condemns all violence in its facilities, and the fatal actions taken against Wells by another inmate are being thoroughly investigated,” said ADOC spokeswoman Samantha Rose in a message to APR. “Wells’s exact cause of death is pending a full autopsy, and more information will be available upon the conclusion of the investigation into his death.”

A U.S. Department of Justice report in April 2019 found that Alabama’s overcrowded, understaffed prisons for men were likely in violation of the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment and its prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment, and that ADOC regularly failed to protect inmates from sexual and physical violence perpetrated by other inmates.

An expected followup report by the Department of Justice in July detailed why the federal government believes systemic use of excessive force within Alabama’s prisons for men violates the Eighth Amendment. 

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As of Tuesday, at least 29 state inmates and two prison workers have died after testing positive for COVID-19. There have been 453 confirmed coronavirus cases among inmates and 429 among prison staff as of Oct. 14, according to ADOC.

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Crime

28th Alabama inmate dies after testing positive for COVID-19

Since the start of the pandemic, 441 Alabama inmates and 415 staff have tested positive for coronavirus.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Johnny Dwight Terry on Oct. 8 became the 28th Alabama inmate to die after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Terry, 74, had multiple health conditions and was taken from Limestone Correctional Facility to a local hospital on Oct. 6 after exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus. He tested positive at the hospital where he remained until his death, the Alabama Department of Corrections said in a press release on Friday. 

Two additional inmates and four workers at Limestone prison also tested positive for COVID-19, according to ADOC, bringing the total number of inmates who have tested positive at the prison to 23 and infected staff to 26. 

Since the start of the pandemic, 441 Alabama inmates and 415 staff have tested positive for coronavirus. Two prison workers at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Woman died after testing positive for the disease. Of the state’s approximately 22,000 inmates, 2,834 had been tested for coronavirus as of Oct. 7, according to ADOC.

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Corruption

Attorney general opposes motion to reconsider Hubbard’s prison sentence

“Hubbard is not being punished for his reversed convictions. He is being punished for the crimes of which he remains convicted,” Marshall wrote to the court. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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Former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard reported for his prison sentence at the Lee County Detention Facility on Sept. 11.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in a court filing Tuesday opposed a request by former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s attorney for the court to reconsider his 4-year sentence on six felony ethics violations.

Marshall in the filing said that after four years of appeals, Hubbard remains convicted of those felonies.

“This Court’s carefully calibrated sentence of a four-year split, among other penalties, properly accounted for the severity of Hubbard’s crimes, the position of trust he abused, and the need for serious penalties to deter other wrongdoers,” Marshall wrote to the court. “In addition, Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency now that he is finally in jail.”

“In sum, nothing material has changed since Hubbard earned his four-year sentence four years ago. It’s simply time for him to serve it. Accordingly, his motion should be denied,’ Marshall continued.

Hubbard had originally been convicted by a Lee County jury on 12 ethics violations, and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld 11 of those convictions, but the Alabama Supreme Court later reversed five of those convictions and upheld six.

He began serving his four-year sentence for the six convictions of using his office for personal gain on Sept. 11.

Hubbard’s attorney argued in a separate court filing that the court should reconsider his sentence because five of the 12 convictions were reversed, but Marshall told the court Tuesday that the sentence Hubbard received was just.

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“Hubbard is not being punished for his reversed convictions. He is being punished for the crimes of which he remains convicted,” Marshall wrote to the court.

Hubbard’s attorney in his request to reconsider sentencing also argued that Hubbard has already suffered from a “divestment of his business interests.”

Hubbard’s convictions related to consulting contracts that enriched him while he served as speaker.

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The state’s attorney general at the time of his conviction determined that Hubbard had bilked Alabama out of more than $2 million.

“Suffice it to say, it is a bad advocacy strategy for Hubbard to mourn his loss of an income stream worth millions, which he financed on the backs of hard-working Alabamians who expected an honest elected official. That Hubbard has lost some of these ill-gotten gains in no way suggests that Hubbard has paid back his debt to society,” Marshall wrote to the court.

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