SAN FRANCISCO — A Bay Area Rapid Transit officer who was mistakenly shot by a partner during a probation search this week was killed by a single bullet to the chest that missed the protective vest he was wearing, Alameda County sheriff's officials said Thursday.
Sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson said an autopsy had revealed that Det. Sgt. Tom Smith, who headed the BART police department's detective unit, "died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the chest. Specifics of the injury are not available until the pathologist completes his report."
Nelson said further details of the shooting will not be released until Dublin Police Services completes an investigation.
Smith was with four other BART plainclothes detectives, two uniformed BART officers and an Alameda County sheriff's deputy when the group entered the unlocked Dublin apartment of a robbery suspect who was already in custody to search for stolen property.
The weapon of a fellow BART officer discharged and Smith, a 23-year veteran of the force, died a short time later at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.
The eastern Alameda County city of Dublin contracts for many of its police services with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, which is assisting in the probe of the Tuesday afternoon shooting — which marked the first on-duty death in the 42-year history of BART police.
All the officers were wearing bulletproof vests, BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey has confirmed.
Nelson reiterated that fact, but he explained that the bullet struck Smith in a gap in the vest.
"To answer the question that is sure to follow, Sgt. Smith WAS wearing his ballistic vest," he wrote to reporters Thursday, "but sadly, as those of us in law enforcement know, ballistic vests do not afford 100% protection."
Smith's public funeral is scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m., at the Neighborhood Church of Castro Valley.
A Tommy Smith Memorial fund has been set up at Wells Fargo Bank. Deposits can be made at any Wells Fargo, 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