Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Tuesday, September 19, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Widow Blames BART for Husband’s Death

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A Bay Area Rapid Transit officer shot a colleague to death during a probation search because of inadequate training, his widow claims in court.

Det. Sgt. Tommy Smith was killed by a single shot in the chest as he led a team on a probation search in a Dublin apartment on Jan. 21, 2014, his widow Kellie Smith says in her May 29 federal lawsuit.

The Smiths have a young daughter.

Kellie Smith claims defendants Police Chief Kenton Rainey and Deputy Chief Benson Fairow "drastically increased" the number of probation, building and parole searches BART officers conducted, but without "the specialized tactical training that was required to complete these duties safely, but which was made available to other tactical units."

As her husband emerged from a room during the probation search, defendant Det. Michael Maes shot him once in the chest and killed him, Kellie Smith says in the complaint.

"During the search, the team of officers made a number of tactical errors that are routinely addressed during tactical training - the very type of training that Detective Sergeant had requested himself and was denied on multiple occasions," his widow says.

Not only were her husband's requests "summarily denied," she says, "In many cases, these denials were done in a disparaging and insulting manner intended to discourage requests for training." And his requests were denied despite the fact that his unit had become the primary unit conducting tactical searches of buildings, his widow says.

She seeks punitive damages from BART, its top two officers and Det. Maes, for medical expenses, wrongful death, civil rights and constitutional violations, loss of consortium, failure to train, and her husband's pain and suffering.

She is represented by Joseph Lucia with Rains, Lucia & Stern.

Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.