The man reportedly was in custody as the officers searched his home in Dublin, Calif., looking for a stolen laptop and other stolen items. The officers were a part of a seven member strike team, who entered the home wearing bulletproof vests, but somehow Smith’s partner opened fire on the 23-year-veteran officer.
The Bay Area Rapid Transit department, which patrols the train system in Northern California, said the cause of the shooting is under investigation. Alameda County Sheriff Sgt. J.D. Nelson said Smith’s partner may have mistook him for someone else, or could have discharged his weapon accidentally.
"During that search, it appears one officer accidentally fired his weapon, which struck the other officer and ultimately it was a fatal shot," said Nelson, adding that Smith may have been a "misidentified target."
"Tommy was a great law enforcement officer, but an even better son, brother, husband, father and friend," BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said of the killing, the first in the department’s 42-year history. "He touched many lives in a positive way both professionally and personally and he will be sorely missed."
Police declined to identify the shooter, only saying that the officer, a 10-year-veteran, was "extremely upset," according to Rainey.
"Our condolences go out to the immediate family and friends and the extended BART family," Rainey said. "We ask that everyone please give us a chance to catch our breath [and] grieve."