Funeral Services for Slain BART Officer Killed by Friendly Fire

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The funeral for Sgt. Tommy Smith is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Neighborhood Church of Castro Valley, also known as the Three Cross Church. Jodi Hernandez reports.

    Family arranged the funeral services for a slain BART detective - the first time in history a transit officer was killed in the line of duty - two days after the 23-year veteran was killed by a friendly- fire bullet wound to the chest.

    The funeral for BART Police Sgt. Tommy Smith is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m. at the Neighborhood Church of Castro Valley, also known as the Three Cross Church, at 20600 John Drive. It will be open to public. A viewing will take place Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Chapel of the Chimes in Hayward at 32992 Mission Blvd, which is also public.

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    There are still many questions unanswered leading up to Smith's death: What was the perceived threat in the one-bedroom apartment of a suspect whom officers knew was in custody? What sparked one officer to pull out his gun and use it?

    Ironically, the slain Smith - who comes from a family of peace officers -  was part of a team working to improve the training of BART officers in the aftermath of the now infamous 2009 Oscar Grant shooting at the Fruitvale BART station. That's when  BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot Grant in the back on New Year's Day, telling his department he thought he was reaching for his stun gun. Prosecutors charged Mehserle with murder,  and was ultimately found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2010. The movie, Fruitvale Station, is based on this event.

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    BART Chief of Police Kenton Rainey said he would not name the fellow officer who killed Sgt. Tom Smith on Jan. 21, but added his colleague is "very upset." "We want to give him a chance to breathe," Rainey said. Bob Redell and Christie Smith report "We want to give him a chance to breathe," Rainey said.

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    In Tuesday's shooting, Smith was killed by fellow Officer Michael Maes, a law enforcement official told NBC Bay Area, who had 13 years of service with BART.

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    BART Chief of Police Kenton Rainey has not yet officialy identified Maes as the fellow officer, but did say that Smith's colleague was "extremely upset" and on routine administrative leave. At an emotional news conference on Tuesday, Rainey said the department wanted to give Smith's colleauge a "chance to breathe" before making his name public.

    Smith, Maes and a handful of other plainclothes BART detectives and a Dublin police officer were searching the one-bedroom apartment of John Henry Lee, a 20-year-old who had been arrested on Jan. 15 on robbery charges.

    The officers knew he was in custody, and were searching his 450 Dougherty Road place for a possible stolen laptop, taken off a BART train, that they thought he might have.

    In a probably cause statement filed in Alameda County Superior Court, Maes was the supervisor who wrote a report indicating Lee had pointed a handgun at a man at the Fruitvale BART station and demanded his property. The man gave Lee his car keys, wallet, cell phone and laptop bag, the report states.

    Then, on Jan. 16, in a separate incident, Lee ended up crashing a stolen Honda into a tree in San Leandro and was finally arrested with a loaded handgun, according to Maes' report. The man from the Fruitvale BART station identified Lee as the person who robbed him, Maes wrote.

    Maes' request for a warrentless arrest was filed on Jan. 21, the same day Smith was fatally shot.

    The Alameda County Sheriff's Department confirms Smith died of a single gunshot wound to the chest. Though he was wearing a bullet proof vest, it was not enough to shield him from the bullet's impact. It is still unclear what caused his fellow officer to fire his gun. 

    The 42-year-old Smith leaves behind his wife, Kellie, who is BART police K-9 officer, and his 6-year-old daughter. Smith also has two brothers in law enforcement; one is an Alameda County sheriff's deputy, and the other is a Newark police officer.

    And there are many friends and neighbors who are missing him as well.

    Kellie Gaffey Manzone, a fellow San Ramon resident and longtime friend of Smith's, described him as a"wonderful, loving, full of life and a great friend."

    She said Smith had a tight-knit group of friends at their alma mater, Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, and that he and his family were very involved at the school.

    Dani Lorta, director of alumni relations at the school, was also Smith's classmate.

    "Tommy was a leader in our community," Lorta said. "He was someone who was as committed to his career as he was to his friends and family. We are reeling from the loss and are staying in close contact to support the many people whose lives he touched so deeply."

    He was also described as a respected, sincere, passionate and sometimes opinionated person who always looked out for others.
     
    "Tom knew that law enforcement was incredibly dangerous," BART Police Lt. Lance Haight said. "I do remember him once commenting that BART had never had an officer die in the line of duty and how fortunate that had never taken place."

    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's Jodi Hernandez, Cheryl Hurd, Bob Redell, Cheryl Hurd, the Associated Press and Bay City News' Jeff Shuttleworth contributed to this report.