Four years after the on-duty crash that ended his life, Richmond Police Officer Bradley Moody lives on in his closest family members, in friends who honor his life with tattoos, memorials, and keepsakes, in complete strangers who were given a second chance on life with his organs, in the people he worked with both in the Richmond Police Department and in the neighborhoods he patrolled.
On Thursday, Brad’s mother and sister made the trip to Richmond to pay their respects at the site of Brad’s accident. His mother, Betty, and sister, Jennifer, arrived at the police station and were greeted with hugs and kisses like they had just entered a family reunion. Which, actually, they had.
The RPD has adopted the Moody family ever since Brad’s accident. While Brad was in the hospital, two officers stood outside of his hospital room so that he was never alone. Officers volunteered to watch over the homes of Betty and Brad’s wife, Susan, 24 hours a day. When Brad was in surgery for the organ donation, the officers stood guard outside. While Brad’s body was at the funeral home, the guard continued. And Betty’s oldest son James — “Jamie,” as his mother and sister like to call him — is now a Richmond police officer as well.
Thursday, Betty and Jennifer got an escort from the station to the accident site from James and Officer Joe Avila, Brad’s friend, the first one to stand guard outside his hospital room.
The accident site looks normal: the light pole, the center median, the landscaping. Cars zoom by without even a glance. The pole has been replaced and flowers are placed at its base. A metal sign with a blue ribbon, honoring fallen officers, has been added. The smallest addition to the pole is a small white sticker with the message in black, “In loving memory. K27. K9 Officer Brad Moody.” K27 was Brad’s call sign. The number has now been retired.
Jennifer, Betty and Jamie walked over to the base of the light pole and took a moment to huddle around the flowers. A small pot of yellow flowers sat at the base. None of the family members knew who brought the flowers. They were not there the day before.
As the seasons change, so do the memorials. A neighbor places a pumpkin at the base of the light pole as Halloween approaches, Brad’s favorite holiday. Sometimes a can of Brad’s favorite drink, Coors Light, can be found. Sometimes the base of the memorial is empty, just an unremarkable pole in an unremarkable setting.
Officer Avila surveyed the scene from a distance. Avila has worked in the RPD for more than 16 years and he still remembers the first day he met Brad — “he was a tall skinny kid” — and the day of Brad’s death. “I had just gotten off work and I was asleep,” Avila said. “I remember the sound of banging on the door.”
Jennifer, Betty and Jamie returned to Avila, and created a small circle about 40 feet away from the pole.
“I remember Brad for 10,000 things,” Avila said. “Normally when you talk about someone in the past tense you tend to romanticize things. But he was truly a great guy.”
Avila had K27 tattooed on his back to keep Brad with him. Jennifer and Betty both wear a special necklace to commemorate Brad, with the chain connected to a small badge bearing the initials B.A.M. Betty’s necklace is double-sided and has Jamie’s badge as well.
“We pull pictures out to remember the time he was here,” Betty said. “He enriched our lives for 29 years.”
“His imagination…” Jennifer said, and Betty finished the thought, “was unbelievable.”
They shared details about his smile, his love of dancing and the exuberance he had growing up. Jennifer said that the teachers at Brad’s middle school, where she now works, still remember his smile. His dimples came from his mom, and she shows them off at the recollection.
Their strongest memories of Brad’s death and life come not from the memorial service on Oct. 14, 2008, in which a nine-mile procession led Brad’s body to the Sleep Train Pavilion in Concord, but of the respect that he had from the people in the community he used to patrol.
After his death, an impromptu memorial was created on Nevin Avenue. “That speaks more about him as a cop,” Avila said. “I have never heard of anything like that before, or like that since.”
Jamie said that one time he was talking to someone who he had caught smoking marijuana, and the man recognized the last name on his uniform. He asked if Brad was Jamie’s brother, and Jamie said he was. “Man, he was a cool cop,” the man said.
Brad was born in Honolulu to Betty and James Moody Sr. James Moody Jr. – Jamie — was four and a half years older than him, and Jennifer was four and a half years younger.
When Brad was 18 months old, his family moved to Solano County. When he was six, Brad told his mother that he wanted to be a police officer. He enjoyed playing cops and robbers with his younger sister Jennifer, who would continue to serve as his “test dummy” all of his life.
He attended Solano Community College and served in the school’s campus police department. After graduating with an AA degree he attended Los Medanos Community College’s police academy. He finished third overall in his class and was awarded top shooter and top athlete.
The Richmond Police Department hired him straight out of school, and he was sworn in as an officer in February 2001 at the age of 22.
In July of the following year he met Susan Filippi, a dispatcher for the RPD. Less than two years later, on May 1, 2004, Susan and Brad were married. The newly formed family continued to grow as in the course of three years, Susan gave birth to two daughters.
At the same time that Brad was starting his new family, Jamie was considering joining the police force. He was working in the restaurant business as a general manager of an Old Spaghetti Factory. Jamie says he loved the people, but he didn’t love the work. Jamie told Brad that he wanted to work as a police officer, but Brad advised him not to. The time was not right. The department was dealing with cutbacks and Brad told his older brother to be patient.
When Brad died, Jamie decided to try again. He got permission from his wife and his mother, and two months after Brad’s death he applied.
Later in the afternoon, back at the station, Jennifer and Betty kissed Jamie goodbye, and he walked them out. Jamie returned by himself to the station’s conference room.
He was wearing his typical police uniform: black shirt and black pants, a belt full of pouches and holsters for his guns. J. Moody is embroidered on the right side of his uniform, over his chest, and a badge with his identification number is on the opposite side. But like his mom, his sister, and his department colleague, James Moody too carries his brother with him. Written on the black bracelet on his right wrist is “Officer Brad Moody. K27.” — a memento that Jamie wears even in the shower. Concealed under the uniform are dog tags in memory of Brad. In his wallet, he carries a police badge that he wore at his brother’s memorial service. On his right hip is his brother’s first gun. Connected to his waist are handcuffs, engraved with the phrase “228 watching over 122” — the badge numbers for his brother and himself.
The conversation returned to his brother. “I heard stories of where he would be driving someone to jail and they would be like, ‘Hey Moody can I get a cigarette before you take me to jail?’ He’d pull over. Get the guy out, let him have a cigarette and take him to jail,” Jamie said. “And they respected that. They knew they were wrong. They knew they were going to jail but he didn’t treat them like dirt. And that is the type of person that he was.”
As the day ended, Moody walked through the station lobby. He passed a black memorial, adorned with the flags of the United States and California, guarded by a velvet rope, bearing the names of 10 officers who have died on duty – his brother’s name among them.
Officer Moody pushed one of the front doors open and walked outside. The evening was cool and the parking lot was serene. He stopped, answered his ringing phone and said, “I’ll be there in a few minutes.” He veered to the left and walked over to his patrol car.