Fallen BART sergeant killed by single shot to chest

Public viewing, funeral for Sgt. Tommy Smith scheduled for next week

An autopsy has determined that BART police Sgt. Tom "Tommy" Smith died from a single gunshot wound to his chest, an Alameda County sheriff's spokesman said Thursday.

Smith, 42, was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was shot by a fellow officer during a probation search at an apartment in Dublin on Tuesday, but sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson said such vests "don't afford 100 percent coverage of the chest area."

"In this case, the bullet struck an area of Mr. Smith's chest that wasn't covered by his vest," Nelson said.

The autopsy was conducted by the Alameda County coroner's bureau on Wednesday.

Smith was one of eight officers who went to an apartment at 6450 Dougherty Road in Dublin shortly before 2 p.m. on Tuesday to conduct a probation search.

The apartment was the home of 20-year-old John Henry Lee, who is believed to have stolen a car from the Hayward BART station on Jan. 15 and then used it to rob a victim at the Fruitvale station later that day, according to police. Lee was already in custody at the time of the search.

Nelson said Smith was one of five BART detectives who were in street clothes, and they were accompanied by two uniformed BART police officers and a uniformed Dublin police officer.

Outside of Thursday morning's BART board meeting, BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said, "Everybody is upset" about Smith's death. "It's sad and it's tragic because he was a fellow officer," he said.

A public funeral for Smith has been scheduled for 10 a.m. next Wednesday at the Neighborhood Church of Castro Valley at 20600 John Drive.

There will also be a public viewing on Tuesday, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Chapel of the Chimes at 32992 Mission Blvd. in Hayward.

Smith, a 23-year veteran officer, is survived by his wife Kellie, who heads the BART Police Department's K-9 unit, and their 6-year-old daughter.

He was the first BART police officer ever killed in the line of duty.

— Bay City News Service


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 26, 2014 at 4:25 pm

I would like to know exactly how this happened.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Oscar
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2014 at 4:53 pm

I think the partner meant to taser the perp but grabbed his holstered gun and shot his own partner instead. Mix-ups like these happen quite a lot. See Fruitvale.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jan 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm

I've never heard of BART police killing one another "quite a lot".

news to me...

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Oscar
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 26, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Short memory?

Web Link

 +   Like this comment
Posted by nancy s.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2014 at 8:34 am perp involved.. get over the friggin Oscar Grant epsiodose, it has been adjudicated. Move on. The question is how do 2 seasaoned officers in a small 4 room apt have one shot another...definitely needs an investigation!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Truth
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jan 27, 2014 at 9:20 pm

For those who compare the Oscar Grant case to this case need to look in the mirror. These men were doing their job and serving with honor at the time of this tragic incident. The prior posts show the lack of understanding and complete belief in the media that some uninformed people possess...what a shame.

Tazers are not deployed when searching a building...lethal force is deployed...Oscar you show your lack of common sense and complete lack of police tactics and should keep your ill faded comments to yourself.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Oscar
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2014 at 9:40 pm

What, may I ask, is an "ill faded comment?" Just askin'.

So, shooting in the back a handcuffed Oscar Grant, who is lying on his belly, constitutes "doing your job and serving with honor?" One has to wonder just what kind of a fascist state "Truth the Goof" really desires to live in. At any rate, the cop ended up doing some serious prison time -- not as much as he deserved, but he was found guilty, and probably mitigated by an acknowledged inadequate training regimen for BART cops.

The differences between the murder of Oscar Grant by a BART cop and this recent tragic episode is that both suggest inadequate training. Most urban cops are required to pass a psychological test, for example; Border Patrol agents, who comprise the largest armed police force in the US, are not so required. Don't know about BART cops. Both tragic BART events suggest an inadequacy of training for the job.

[Removed because it was off topic.]

 +   Like this comment
Posted by me
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 12:23 pm

It is a shame this union employee was shot by another union employee. To the union reps who blame the accident during the strike on non-union employees, I am sure you will take the blame for this union accident in order to be fair. Right.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Oscar
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Well, it sure didn't take long for our everyday contributor who's obsessed with unions to turn an issue of safety and training among BART cops to one of unions. Once again, "me-me-me" offers a vivid example of a 4th grader's reasoning 'ability'. Still waiting to hear what he means by 'ill-faded comment'.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by me
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:02 pm

It is not a union issue. Just saying that if the unions want to blame management during a strike for the loss of life then turn-about is fair play.

I personally do not think it is management's fault of the death during the strike nor is it a union fault for this loss of life. They were both unfortunate accidents. But if somebody wants to blame management for the prior accident, they need to accept blame for the accident of an union employee.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Thinking
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:22 pm

The Port Authority of New York cops serve many, many more people, more transportation hubs and a wider territory but they do not have these incidents. (They used to years ago but something changed and they improved their record) Obviously, Bart training needs to be improved. There is definitely some sort of problem.

It would also be awesome for riders if the Bart cops would ride the trains and move from car to car like they do in rhe New York subways which are amazingly safe, considering the # of riders and 24 hour service.

I think the NY subway is cheaper too. At least it was a few years ago.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by me
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:39 am

Great comments 'Thinking'. However the problem we have is BART is owned by the unions and not by the people. So making changes (except for raising fares) will not happen.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by kbenson
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Shot to chest? Why were these officers not wearing bullet proof vests?

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Oscar
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Well, if you believe the guy who has posted here under multiple names, the reason why the cops weren't wearing bulletproof vests is because the unions have demanded so much for salaries and other selfish union perks that BART was unable to afford the vests. I've seen these guys hitchhiking, in uniform, because BART can't afford to give these overpriced union jerks cars after meeting their salary demands. Prior to 2008 we lived in freedom. Now we're increasingly living under union tyranny, led by our Dear Leader.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lisa
a resident of Rosewood
on Jan 29, 2014 at 9:19 pm

My heart is broken for both officers involved. This was a horrible tragedy.

I did not know that BART police were used for these purposes though. Do BART officers get the same training as a city officer has? If not, then I would consider this preventable for throwing a transit officer into a situation where maybe the training he received was different.

I'm not drawing any conclusions and look forward to the findings. I will think a little differently when I see BART officers and cars now that I know their jobs are much more dangerous than it might seem.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Another bad idea from the air board
By Tim Hunt | 12 comments | 805 views

Exchange Club Meeting on First Amendment
By Roz Rogoff | 0 comments | 541 views