Autopsy Finds BART Officer Killed By Shot To Chest Despite Bulletproof Vest
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OAKLAND (KCBS) — An autopsy has determined that Bay Area Rapid Transit 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. He was shot and killed accidentally by Officer Michael Maes while the two were conducting a probation search at an apartment complex in Dublin.
Maes has been put on administrative leave.
Rainey told the board that all questions will be answered but that the investigation will take time.
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.
At a press conference Thursday, BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said the two uniformed officers at the scene of the shooting were wearing video cameras.
“The two uniformed patrol officers did have video cameras that required by policy, but as for what it actually captured, I don’t know,” Rainey said.
The cameras have been turned over to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office for evidence as part of the investigation.
Rainey also defended his department’s decision to send in BART detectives without the assistance from a SWAT team.
Rainey said the suspect was already behind bars and that property searches are not uncommon for BART police and that his officers and detectives are well trained.
“The state only requires 24 hours of continual professional training every two years but BART police officers are taken off the front line and receive this type of continuous professional training in the amount of 40 hours ever year,” Rainey said.
Rainey was hired after BART Officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed Oscar Grant in Oakland’s Fruitvale station in the early morning hours of New Years Day 2009.
Since taking over the department in June 2010, he increased staff training dramatically across the board.
“Our personnel have received probably more training than other law enforcement officers throughout the state,” Rainey said.
“I’m very confident with the training that our personal have received to make sure that they’re prepared to deal with these types of encounters and situations.”
Rainey and current police personnel have described both Smith and Maes as dedicated, hard working and respected officers.
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