News


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

Comments

Posted by Julia, a resident of Alamo
on Jan 24, 2014 at 10:42 am

Well, Well...Officer Tommy Smith WAS wearing a bullet proof vest when he was shot with one bullet in the chest. But the bullet entered his body where the bullet proof vest did not cover. That's interesting in it self.

I was always under the impression that the bullet proof vest covered the chest and the back of those wearing it...Maybe that isn't the total truth.

I sure hope we get a better explanation regarding this bullet proof vest and how a bullet entered his chest that was supposed to be protected by the vest.

But the most important fact here is why in the hell did a veteran officer fire his hand gun at a fellow officer? I am almost sure officer Smith was wearing a flip badge in his chest jacket pocket showing to all that he was an officer of the police department. I hope all the facts come out and the truth is fully explained much better than it has so far.

If it was a stupid accident...I hope they say so...something went terribly wrong that's for sure.

Thanks for listening, Julia Pardini from Alamo


Posted by Eleuthere Irinee, a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2014 at 8:58 am

This was certainly a tragic mishap. As to the vests, they are designed differently for various threat levels = the energy, shape and material of the bullet (or shrapnel in military vests). They are also more like a baseball glove than a hard shell -- the projectile gets caught in the webbing so it doesn't penetrate, but the energy still has to be dissipated over a relatively small area.

The hundreds of wearers saved have suffered grapefruit-sized bruising, and a few cracked ribs -- much preferred over the alternative, but it's Not like Superman, where bullets bounce off.

Here, it appears that the vest didn't fail, it just didn't cover where the bullet hit -- more's the tragedy -- and the lesson that you have to take the precautions that you can -- but you can't totally eliminate the hazards of police work, including accidents.


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