BART Pays $3 Million for Officer’s Death

Maria Dinzeo

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Bay Area Rapid Transit will pay $3.1 million to the family of a detective who was shot to death by a fellow officer during an apartment search almost three years ago.

Det. Sgt. Tommy Smith was leading a team on a probation search of a Dublin apartment on Jan. 21, 2014, when he was shot in the chest by Det. Michael Maes. Eustace De Saint Phalle, an attorney for Smith’s wife, Kellie, confirmed the settlement in an email Friday.

Kellie Smith sued BART in November 2015, and a federal judge ruled in December that she could pursue due process and inadequate training claims against BART.

Maes allegedly mistook Smith for a threat, but Kellie Smith claimed in her lawsuit that officers made a number of tactical errors before the search, including failing to study the building’s floor plan. She said her husband had repeatedly asked for better tactical training from his supervisors, Chief of Police Kenton Rainey and Deputy Police Chief Ben Fairow, and that his requests were “summarily denied.”

Smith said Friday that she hoped the settlement, which revises the BART Police Department’s training policy, will prevent similar tragedies.

“I am very hopeful that these policy changes will avoid another tragedy like this from happening in the future. I wish more than anything that none of my fellow officers’ families from the BART PD will ever have to suffer through what our family has over the past three years,” she said.

Joseph Lucia, who represents the Smith family, said the $3.1 million will help provide for the young daughter Smith left behind. “Kellie and her daughter will never get Tommy back,” he said. “They will continue to struggle every day and this settlement will only help close one long, tough chapter in their lives. Further, this settlement will help to protect Tommy and Kellie’s daughter as she grows up without a father.”

Revised provisions of the training policy state: “If any officer feels that officer needs or wants additional training during the FTO (Field Training Officer) program, AOT (Advanced Officer Training) program, or while assigned to a specialized assignment, the department will assess that officer’s knowledge, skills, and abilities to determine what deficiencies, if any, exist in order to develop a proper in-house remedial training program for the officer. If the department is not able to provide an in-house training regimen to address any perceived and/or identified deficiency(ies), if appropriate the officer will be sent to an outside California POST approved training provider to address the deficiency(ies). Officers must attend training that has been scheduled for them. If for any reason an officer withdraws from or cancels their attendance at training, the officer is required to advise and work with their supervisor or manager and the training unit to reschedule the training for the next available class.”

Rainey said in a statement that the department deeply misses Smith. “Our deepest sympathies go out to Kellie, her daughter, and the other members of the Smith family. The BART PD continues to mourn the loss of Tommy,” Rainey said. “He will not be forgotten as we strive to ensure BART PD is a 21st century police department.”