Tom Smith
Tom Smith

CASTRO VALLEY -- His job as a BART police officer ultimately led to a complete life for Sgt. Tom "Tommy" Smith Jr.

He and his brothers -- Patrick and Ed Smith, also Bay Area law enforcement officers -- bonded over their common occupation, Patrick Smith recalled Wednesday. Tommy Smith met his wife, Kellie, also an officer, on the job, and they fell in love, married and had a daughter. When his K-9 partner, Boris, retired, Tommy adopted him into his family.

The job also ended his life, too soon, in an accident that has shaken the Bay Area law enforcement community. On Wednesday morning, more than 2,000 mourners, many from police agencies across California and as far away as Boston, came together to say goodbye.

Pallbearers carry the casket of BART police Sgt. Tom Smith Jr. into the chapel during funeral services at the Neighborhood Church on Wednesday, Jan 29,
Pallbearers carry the casket of BART police Sgt. Tom Smith Jr. into the chapel during funeral services at the Neighborhood Church on Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014 in Castro Valley, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) (ARIC CRABB)

"Being a police officer was what he did for a living, but what he did away from work is what defined him," said his older brother, Patrick Smith, an officer with the Newark Police Department. "When Tommy, Ed and I would get together, we would never say goodbye, and I refuse to do so today.

"Stay safe, little brother. We love you, and we'll miss you greatly."

Smith, 42, was accidentally shot by fellow officer Michael Maes on Jan. 21 during a search of a robbery suspect's apartment in Dublin. He was the first BART police officer to die in the line of duty in the agency's 42-year history. The details of the tragic confrontation have not been released.

The service at the Neighborhood Church of Castro Valley was at times heart-wrenching but also lighthearted as mourners told jokes and stories about a man who was loyal and committed to police work but found his true joy with his wife and 6-year-old daughter, Summer.

"He gave his life for what he believed," BART police Chief Kenton Rainey said. "We thank you for sharing Tommy with us. Our privilege to serve with him has now become our honor."

Attorney General Kamala Harris called Smith "a man of honor, bravery and commitment."

"We are gathered here under the most tragic of circumstances," she said. "To Summer, you beautiful girl: Your dad is a hero, and that is how California as a state thinks of him and how we will always remember him."

The service started under gray, misty skies shortly after 10 a.m. As Smith's casket, covered in an American flag, was carried from a hearse into the chapel, bagpipes played and officers stood at attention, saluting their slain comrade and shedding tears.

The slain officer's wife and daughter held hands as they followed the casket, borne by a group of pallbearers that included his two brothers and his brother-in-law, into the church.

Kellie Smith did not speak at the service, but the program for the funeral contained a statement attributed to Smith's immediate family.

"We have seen our little family grow to include other families, friends, co-workers, colleagues, communities and acquaintances," the statement read. "Each of you have helped, and will continue to help, with the healing process.

"The growth of our family proves what we already knew, that Tommy touched so many lives on so many different levels, and fortunately we continue to reap the benefits of his generosity, compassion and love. ... Remember, every new day brings another day of healing."

Earlier Wednesday morning, as the funeral procession traveled from Hayward's Chapel of the Chimes to the church, it passed by Hayward's Moreau Catholic High School, where Smith graduated in 1989. About 180 students and staff members gathered in front of the school to honor Smith, carrying signs and waving a flag.

At the church, dozens of K-9 officers and their police dogs stood outside the chapel -- Tommy Smith had been a K-9 officer and Kellie still is -- as hundreds of police officers and mourners walked by, umbrellas in hand.

Near the end of the service, a short video retrospective of Smith's life brought a good number of the rank and file, police brass and friends to tears as they gripped one another's hands and shoulders in comfort.

Patrick Smith urged mourners to remember his brother for his dry, quick wit and his ability to connect with every person no matter how busy his day, no matter what he faced in his own life.

"Now, when you go back go work, you better crack a couple jokes and remember him as he remembered all of you," his brother said.

Patrick Smith also talked about his brother's love for his family.

"Tommy loved Kellie more than life itself, and on the day of his wedding, he cried like a school girl," he told the crowd. Tommy's second love came six years ago with the birth of his daughter, whom he "brainwashed" into loving his favorite sports teams: the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland A's, Patrick Smith said.

When a San Francisco Giants fan would ask the little girl if she liked the team, she had her standard answer: "Not in this family. Go A's, boo Giants," Patrick Smith recalled.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Paul Delucchi grew up with Tommy Smith and knew him personally and professionally for more than 30 years. He said he was a man who would always offer help: "No favor was too big, no request too great."

Delucchi spent time with Smith at A's games and also saw him professionally when the sergeant came to his courtroom on official business.

"As we mourn and as we pray, let's not forget to celebrate that we were blessed to know a man like Tommy Smith," Delucchi said. "I was."

Staff writers Natalie Neysa Alund, Jeremy Thomas, David DeBolt and Rick Hurd contributed to this report. Follow Kristin J. Bender at Twitter.com/kjbender.