Police are looking into the possibility of accidental gun discharge. A case of mistaken identity is also another angle.
A police officer accidentally shot a fellow officer on Tuesday in San Francisco. 42-year old Det. Sgt. Tommy Smith died from the gunshot wound at the Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.
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The reason for the accident is still unknown, but officials are suspecting that the gun owned by a certain Michael Maes, a fellow police officer, discharged a round of bullets. Police are also looking into the possibility of misidentification, although it is not likely the case.
Smith is survived by his wife, Kellie, and their 6-year old daughter.
Smith was a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer. He is the first in the agency's 42-year history to be killed in the line of duty. BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said that Smith was very supportive of his personnel.
"Tommy was a great law enforcement officer but an even better son, brother, husband, father and friend. He touched many lives," Rainey said.
According to the initial investigation, Smith and four other detectives were in plainclothes and were conducting a probation search on Tuesday afternoon. Together with them are two uniformed BART officers and one uniformed Alameda County Sheriff's deputy.
The location was an apartment that belonged to a 20-year old John Henry Lee who is in prison for burglary. Police didn't need a search warrant because Lee is currently on probation at the Santa Rita Jail.
According to Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. J.D. Nelson, the apartment door was unlocked, possibly leading the officers to conclude that someone was inside. They proceeded to draw their guns upon entering.
Specifics are yet to be revealed.
Meanwhile, BART Police Chief Rainey said that probation searches are routinary. "BART officers are supposed to practice good officer safety in accordance with their training," he added.
Sergeant Smith served the BART Police Department for 20 years.