BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey spoke before reporters this morning, offering some insight about Sgt. Tom Smith, who was killed by another officer yesterday afternoon while conducting a routine probation search.
Smith was with seven other officers, two who were uniformed and the rest in plainclothes, when another BART police officer accidentally shot him. Although Smith and all the other officers on the scene were wearing bullet-proof vests, Smith died at a hospital in Castro Valley.
He is survived by his wife Kellie -- also a BART cop -- and his 6-year-old daughter.
Reporters peppered the chief with burning questions, trying to piece together how one officer shot and killed another. However, Rainey remained tight-lipped about the investigation, punting most questions to the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, which is leading the investigation into the apparent accidental shooting.
Rainey couldn't say for sure whether the officer who fired his weapon was spooked by Smith or why his gun discharged. He did note that the officers were conducting a search at an apartment linked to a suspect detained for a slew of BART robberies. Specifically, they had been looking for stolen laptops. The cops entered the apartment with their guns drawn, but what happened next remains very unclear.
"I don't have anything that I can tell you definitively about what happen -- what I can say is our personnel train for these type of scenarios and what they did and how they approached that apartment is in accordance with that training," Rainey said.
Rainey noted that uniformed BART officers are required to wear lapel cameras, however, because Smith and the shooter were both in plainclothes, cameras were optional. It's not yet clear whether they were wearing cameras at the time of the shooting -- or if the cameras were rolling.
Nor could the chief say how many times Smith was shot and where. An autopsy will be conducted later today which will help piece together some of those details, he said.
A visibly upset chief grew silent at times, taking a breath while fielding questions; he quickly lifted his glasses to wipe his eyes while talking about how his department will cope. He talked about how Tommy was an all-around great cop, father, and husband who had been with the department for more than 20 years. At the time of his death, he was head of the department's detective unit. His brother works with the Alameda County Sheriff's Department.
While he wouldn't divulge the name of the officer who pulled the trigger, he told reporters that he had visited with him last night, offering words of encouragement.
"Police work is dangerous," Rainey told reporters. "There is nothing routine about it -- and there's nothing more dangerous than going into someone else's home."
"We're in shock, disbelief, we're grieving -- please give us some time," Rainey added.