OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The San Francisco Bay Area transit officer who was accidentally killed by a fellow officer while they searched an apartment was wearing a bulletproof vest when he was hit by a single gunshot wound to the chest, an official said.
The bullet struck an area of BART Police Sgt. Tom Smith's body that was not covered by the vest, Alameda County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. J.D. Nelson said Thursday.
"Unfortunately, bulletproof vests do not provide 100 percent support," Nelson said.
Authorities were still trying to determine whether the other officer's weapon discharged accidentally or if the officer mistook Smith for someone else, Nelson said. Either way, it was an accident, he added.
Smith, 42, was shot Tuesday while authorities searched a one-bedroom apartment in Dublin for a smartphone, laptop bag and related items stolen during an armed holdup at a train station in Oakland.
He was the first officer killed in the line of duty in the transit agency's 42-year history.
Police have not officially named the officer who shot Smith, but he has been identified as Michael Maes, 50, a 13-year BART police veteran, according to government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.
Maes' attorney, David Mastagni, declined Thursday to talk specifically about the incident because of the investigation.
Mastagni said that his client is cooperating with investigators and that Maes "is deeply concerned and his heart and love goes out to the Smith family."
The Sacramento-based attorney said that he has seen similar unfortunate incidents in his 40-year career representing law enforcement officers. He said it is one of those risks and perils they encounter in protecting society.
"We all should pray for Officer Smith's family and for Officer Maes' family as well," Mastagni said. "It is always heartbreaking when these types of circumstances arise."