Thousands Mourn Sgt. Tom Smith, BART Cop Killed by Friendly Fire
At the entrance of the Neighborhood Church of Castro Valley, an American flag hung between the cranes of two Alameda County firetrucks, swinging across the grey, gloomy sky. Thousands of police officers, family, and friends flooded the church to remember Sgt. Tom Smith, the BART cop who was shot and killed by a fellow officer last week.
The sheer number of people who crowded the church was a good indication of how dearly the always-dedicated cop and father would be missed. The main entrance was jammed packed, and mourners were offered seats in an overflow room where a projector displayed the funeral services.
Smith's brother, Pat Smith, a Newark Police officer, stood at the podium with two police officers at his side. He spoke about recently toasting his little brother during New Year's Eve and their playful feuds about their favorite sports' teams. Law enforcement lining the walls of the room choked back tears as Smith said, "Stay safe, little brother. We love you."
Throughout the service, friends and family members shared personal anecdotes and thoughts about their time with Smith, who was 42. They told inside jokes about Tommy, cracking a few smiles and even some laughter which was quickly eclipsed by tears.
Smith was killed last Tuesday by Officer Michael Maes in an accidental shooting; the two plainclothes detectives had entered an apartment, guns drawn, looking for laptops and other items that had been stolen during a string of armed robberies on BART property. For reasons that aren't yet clear, Maes pulled the trigger, accidentally killing Smith.
Since then, Smith has been remembered as a hard-working cop with a "can-do attitude." When he wasn't dedicated to work, he was dedicated to his family.
Sgt. Jason Ledford had met Smith when he first began his law enforcement career in the K9 Division two decades ago. The two had bonded immediately.
"Tom was on a short list of people who I knew I could talk to and I would always be heard," Ledford said.
Following the eulogies, there was a slideshow which displayed home reels of Smith throughout his life: sledding in the snow, playing at the beach with his 6-year-old daughter, and still images of him from grade school.
At the end of the somber service, officers folded the American flag that was draped across Smith's casket in a perfectly tight triangle. Dispatch recordings sounded throughout the room, as an officer repeated Smith's name and the date of his death, concluding with "Gone, but never forgotten."
Officers formed a line along the procession, allowing loved ones to leave the church first. Bagpipe performers from the San Francisco Police Department played a solemn tune as the standing officers raised their hands in salute. Kellie Smith, Tom's wife, grasped the hand of their 6-year-old daughter, Summer, as the two walked down the stairs of the church.
Even after the services ended, hundreds of law enforcers stood in the courtyards, sobbing and hugging. They clenched boxes of tissues as they continued swapping fond stories and warm memories about "Tommy." Suddenly, amid their heavy grief, they couldn't help but smile.
Donations can be made to the Tommy Smith Memorial fund at Wells Fargo Bank, Account # 5148561086 under Kellie Smith.
They can also be mailed to:Tommy Smith Memorial Fund C/O Wells Fargo
11020 Bollinger Canyon Road, Suite 1
San Ramon, CA 94582