The deadly friendly-fire shooting of a BART police detective in Dublin was not captured by body cameras issued to all of the transit agency's officers in the wake of the 2009 Oscar Grant shooting, because the five who entered the apartment either weren't wearing the devices or didn't activate them, according to sources in The Chronicle.
Sources familiar with Tuesday's fatal shooting of Sgt. Tom "Tommy" Smith told The Chronicle that he and two other detectives who entered the apartment of a robbery suspect were not wearing cameras. Two uniformed BART officers who accompanied the detectives did wear cameras but failed to activate them, the sources told the newspaper.
Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. JD Nelson would neither confirm nor deny the newspaper's report. And BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost told NBC Bay Area that two of the seven BART police officers were uniformed, and required to wear the cameras, but at this point "we don't know who went into the house yet." She said that sheriff's department has yet to release that information.
"If the either of the uniformed officers went into the house as part of the probation search, our policy requires that they activate their cameras," Trost said. "The chief (Kenton Rainey) doesn't know if there was video as everything was turned over immediately."
David Mastagni, the Sacramento attorney representing Officer Michael Maes who shot Smith, said he could not legally speak about the specifics of the shooting as the investigation is underway. But he did strongly emphasize that Maes is "fully cooperating" with every investigating agency and that he hopes people will "pray for both families."
Mastagni said that most people don't "fully appreciate" the dangers and perils that officers face, and that Maes is "deeply concerned" for Smith's family.
BART began buying the cameras in 2012 and had fully deployed them by early last year after the high-profile killing of an unarmed Grant at the Fruitvale BART station by a BART officer who said he was reaching for his stun gun instead of his weapon, but was ultimately convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
BART adopted a policy stating that uniformed officers equipped with cameras should activate them "prior to making contact with individuals" in several circumstances, including stops, arrests and probation searches. The goal is to capture an "objective, unbiased video and audio record."
BART's Independent Police Auditor Mark Smith did not discuss specifics of Smith's shooting death with NBC Bay Area, but he did make recommendation's to the transit agency's use of mobile camera recorders.
"I think it's a good move by the department's to use these cameras," he said. "It's better for the public and better for the police department. For encounters such as probation searches that may require a look back, the cameras should be operational."
Sources familiar with Tuesday's shooting told The Chronicle that Smith and two other detectives who entered the apartment of a robbery suspect were not wearing cameras, as plainclothes officers are not required to wear them. Two uniformed BART officers who accompanied the detectives did wear cameras but failed to activate them, the sources said.
As for uniformed officers, BART policy says they should activate the cameras in a variety of situations that include interacting with members of the public. But the subject of the probation search in Dublin was not home. He was already in custody, having been arrested Jan. 16 after police say he led San Leandro officers on a chase to Oakland in a car stolen from a BART lot.
BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said at a transit agency board meeting in Oakland on Thursday that the two uniformed officers at the scene "did have video cameras, as required by policy. As far as what they actually captured, I don't know."
The Tommy Smith Memorial fund has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank. Deposits can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank, Account # 5148561086 under Kellie Smith. Or they can be mailed to: Tommy Smith Memorial Fund C/O Wells Fargo, 11020 Bollinger Canyon Road, Suite 1, San Ramon, CA 94582
NBC Bay Area' sShawn Murphy contributed to this report.