BART police Sgt. Thomas Smith Jr., who was killed in the line of duty last week, was remembered today as a dedicated officer who was devoted to his wife and their 6-year-old daughter. More than 2,000 people, including police officers who traveled from as far away as Massachusetts, attended the service for Smith, 42, at the Neighborhood Church of Castro Valley. Smith, a San Ramon resident, worked for BART for more than two decades and was known as “Tommy.”
He was accidentally shot and killed by a fellow BART officer, Detective Michael Maes, when they were among a group of officers conducting a probation search at a robbery suspect’s apartment at 6450 Dougherty Road in Dublin at about 2 p.m. on Jan. 21. Newark police Officer Patrick Smith, one of Smith’s older brothers, said Smith loved his wife Kellie, who is also a BART police officer, “more than life itself” and said the birth of their daughter Summer “was his greatest achievement.” Patrick Smith said Tommy was named after their father, Thomas Smith Sr., even though he was the youngest of three brothers, and said “you couldn’t pick a better name for him because he was a loving husband and father.
Patrick Smith remembered his brother as “a quick-witted personality” and said “his life ended far too early and his early departure has cheated all of us.” Trying to inject some humorous memories into the somber service, Smith recalled that his brother courted his future wife Kellie by finagling for them to work together on New Year’s Eve some years ago and opening a bottle of what he described as “a non-alcoholic beverage” so they could toast the new year together. Patrick Smith also said Tommy had “brainwashed” his daughter Summer into loving his two favorite sports teams, the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland A’s. Patrick Smith said that created some discomfort among their family because he and their other brother, Edward Smith, an Alameda County sheriff’s deputy, support the San Francisco Giants instead of the A’s.
Smith said that when Tommy would ask Summer if they liked the Giants, she would reply, “Not in this family.” BART police Sgt. Jason Ledford described Tommy as “a man of honor” and “an outstanding supervisor who cared about his people.” Smith “was a man of integrity and hard work,” Ledford said. California Attorney General Kamala Harris said Smith “made the ultimate sacrifice and our world is a better place because of him.” Harris told Summer, “Your dad is a hero and that is how the state of California thinks of him and will always remember him.” BART police Chief Kenton Rainey said Smith joined the transit agency’s police force as a cadet at the age of 18 and spent his entire career there.
Noting that Smith is the first BART officer to be killed in the line of duty in the agency’s 42-year history, Rainey said Smith was living out his department’s values of integrity, accountability and professionalism when he was killed. Rainey said some people have been asking why Smith and other officers were conducting the probation search last week but he said, “This is a police department and this is our job.” At the end of the service, Rainey presented the flag from Smith’s casket to Kellie Smith and a bugler played “Taps.” Pallbearers, including Smith’s two brothers and Hayward police Officer Todd Shaheen, who is Kellie Smith’s brother, then carried Smith’s casket to a hearse, which then departed for the Chapel of the Chimes in Hayward.
A flyover by three California Highway Patrol helicopters had been scheduled to take place immediately after the service but was canceled because of fog in the area. Officers from throughout the Bay Area and California as well as from other states attended Smith’s service. Lt. Michael Rae of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority said he and four colleagues from the Boston-based agency “came out of respect for our brother in uniform. “Sgt. Smith and his colleagues are in our hearts and we grieve for them,” Rae said. Placer County sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Scott said he and six of his colleagues came to the service “to pay our respects” and to “recognize the sacrifices” that Smith and other police officers make every day.
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