Autopsy: Officer died of gunshot wound to chest

In this undated photo released by Bay Area Rapid Transit shows police Sgt. Tom Smith. Authorities say the BART police officer was shot and killed by a fellow officer while searching an apartment looking for a laptop and other stolen items on Tuesday Jan. 21, 2014 in Dublin, Calif. (AP Photo/Bay Area Rapid Transit)

In this undated photo released by Bay Area Rapid Transit shows police Sgt. Tom Smith. Authorities say the BART police officer was shot and killed by a fellow officer while searching an apartment looking for a laptop and other stolen items on Tuesday Jan. 21, 2014 in Dublin, Calif. (AP Photo/Bay Area Rapid Transit)

Bay Area Rapid Transit police chief Kenton Rainey, right, talks about the shooting of a BART officer who was killed by a fellow officer during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. Authorities say a San Francisco Bay Area public transit officer who was shot and killed Tuesday by a fellow officer while searching an apartment was looking for a laptop and other stolen items. Rainey declined to disclose any further details of how the shooting of Sgt. Tom Smith occurred. A robbery suspect was in custody. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Law enforcement officers salute as the body of a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer draped with the American flag is loaded into an Alameda County Sheriff’s Coroner vehicle at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. The officer was shot while serving a probation search warrant at a residence in Dublin, Calif., according to authorities. (AP Photo/The Contra Costa Times, Anda Chu)

This Jan. 16, 2014, booking photo released by Bay Area Rapid Transit shows John Henry Lee. Authorities said a San Francisco Bay Area public transit officer who was shot and killed Tuesday, Jan. 21 by a fellow officer while searching the apartment of Lee, a robbery suspect. The officers were looking for a laptop and other stolen items. (AP Photo/Bay Area Rapid Transit)

Law enforcement officers investigate the accidental fatal shooting of a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer by a fellow BART officer while serving a warrant at an apartment building, according to officials, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, in Dublin, Calif. (AP Photo/The Contra Costa Times, Dan Honda)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco Bay Area transit officer who was shot and killed by a fellow officer while they searched an apartment died of a single gunshot wound to the chest, according to autopsy results released Thursday.

Bay Area Rapid Transit police Sgt. Tom Smith was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was shot on Tuesday, but the bullet struck an area that was not covered, Alameda County sheriff’s spokesman J.D. Nelson said.

“Unfortunately, bulletproof vests do not provide 100 percent support,” he said.

Authorities were still trying to determine whether the other officer’s weapon discharged accidentally or if the officer mistook Smith for someone else, Nelson said. Either way, it was an accident, he added.

Police have not named the officer who shot Smith.

Smith, 42, was shot while authorities searched a one-bedroom apartment in Dublin for a smartphone, laptop bag and related items stolen during an armed holdup at a train station in Oakland.

Smith’s older brother, Patrick, said his heart goes out to the family of the fellow officer who accidentally shot and killed his colleague.

“We’re going to mourn the loss of our brother. We’ll never forget him,” Patrick Smith told KPIX-TV about the death of his brother.

“But there’s someone else in another family that’s affected by this, too, and I feel sorry for them,” he said Wednesday.

Tom Smith was the first officer killed in the line of duty in the transit agency’s 42-year history.

Patrick Smith is a field training officer with the Newark, Calif., Police Department. Another brother, Ed Smith, is a deputy with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.

Smith’s wife, Kellie Smith, also a BART police officer, told the station that she “cherished every moment” she had with her husband, a 23-year BART police veteran who oversaw the department’s detective unit.

The couple has a 6-year-old daughter.

Funeral services for Smith have been scheduled for Jan. 29 at a church in Castro Valley, BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said. The event will be open to the public.

Smith was shot while searching the apartment of John Henry Lee, 20, a suspect in several robberies on BART property.

BART police said in a statement that the San Leandro Police Department had arrested Lee on Jan. 16 after an automobile burglary and subsequent chase that ended when the suspect lost control of his vehicle and hit a tree.

Lee has pleaded not guilty to second-degree robbery with use of a handgun.

Rainey has said seven BART officers and a sheriff’s deputy were at the scene when the shooting occurred. Five of the BART officers were detectives in plainclothes, including Smith, and the officers knew a suspect already was in custody, he said, noting the officers were following agency policies and training.

Rainey has declined to disclose any further details about how Smith was shot, deferring those questions to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the shooting.

Wearing bulletproof vests, the officers began the search by knocking twice on the door of the apartment, Nelson said. The knocks went unanswered, but the door was unlocked, so four BART officers— including Smith— stepped inside with their guns drawn, Nelson added.

Nelson said an officer fired at least one shot that missed Smith’s vest and struck him in the chest. Nelson added that specifics of Smith’s wound will not be available until the pathologist completes his report.

It is not uncommon for an officer to be fatally shot, even if the officer is wearing a bulletproof vest, said Daniel Lawson, a retired San Francisco police captain and the current senior director for Public Safety at the University of San Francisco.

Lawson said Thursday that while there are different types of

Comments

comments

About the Author